Tyranid Index Review: Fast Attack

Hello everybody, Danny from TFG Radio here yet again to ramble on about some Tyranids, and this time, we are going to look at the Hive Mind’s outriders, our fast-movers, our Fast Attack slot!  Of course, you should quickly go check out Frontline’s Tactics Corner for even more information at a break-neck speed.

The Fast-Attack slot wasn’t always full of winners, but now there are a few gems in here that could either help you build a strong Brigade list or go full winged death with the Outrider detachment.


Like their cousins, Tyranid Warriors, Shrikes have seen some improvement thanks to a change in mechanics more than anything else.

Shrikes have all the same upgrades and kit that Warriors do, so they are a multi-threat unit. With just double scything talons, they are not too expensive for a flying unit with a 12 inch move, and 4 attacks isn’t too shabby.  The fact that they can survive high strength weapons like Missile Launchers and Lascannons means that they are far more survivable than before, and with their speed, they don’t require any additional investment in Tyrannocytes.  Thanks to Fly, a shooty, flanking unit is not too bad as with Deathspitters and maybe a Barbled Strangler or two, a unit of 6 can slide up the board, whittle down chaff or other flanking units, and if they get charged, they can simply Fall Back and still shoot.   As a melee version, they can actually engage Flyers with the Super Sonic rule, and just as importantly, they can move over chaff units and get deeper into the yummy goodness of a gunline. With the ability to take Bone Swords for -2 AP, Shrikes can be a legitimate threat to most infantry and light vehicles.  If you can get a Prime near them, they get the benefit of essentially becoming WS 2+ and BS 3+.  Not bad.  While pricey, a unit of 9 melee Shrikes with adrenal glands, a Tyrannocyte, and with Swarmlord are a great way to simply jump over a chaff screen and still have the speed to strike deep into enemy lines. Lest we not forget that they are also mobile synapse, which is helpful if you have a lot of fast-moving elements.

Of course, Shrikes have the problem that if you upgrade them too much, they get pricey, and while they are tougher than they were, they are not that tough.  With only a 4+ save, they are still vulnerable to small arms, and stripping wounds off of them is not too difficult.  While Primes can buff them, Shrikes are too fast, so chances are, the Prime is left behind.   It is also worth mentioning that there is no model for them, so you need to go out and find some wings to slap on Warriors.  Lastly, like Warriors, Shrikes lack a mean, high powered melee weapon to help out against T5 and above targets.  With their increased cost, it can be frustrating when a 200+ unit rubber lances off a 90 point transport.

80/100. Low side of good.  There are a lot of smart plays with Shrikes like jumping over chaff lines or as mobile flanking units, but they cannot tangle with anything but chaff or tie up shooty units, and they get expensive quick.


For me, this is one of the sleeper units of the Index.  They were once pretty meh, but now, I can see Raveners being impactful units in just about any game.

First, they are a bit cheaper than before (under 25 points per model), and they come standard with 5 attacks at WS 3+, rerolling 1s.  That’s not bad at all.   They move 12 on their own and can arrive via Reserve.   They have some upgrade utility like Rending Claws for -1 attack but an AP -1 melee attack with the chance to go to -3.  Really, the exciting part of their upgrades is that they get to bring guns to a talon fight, and deathspitters are legit in 8th edition.  The ranged weapon does not replace their melee weapons, so for just over 30 points, you can have a model that has 5 S4 attacks at WS 3+, rerolling 1s as well as 3 S5 AP-1 shots at BS 4+.   Couple this with their ability to arrive from reserve, and you can have a mean one-two punch in a single unit.   Let’s not forget that The Red Terror exists, and you can cheaply and easily get a unit that has 5 attacks on a 2+ reroll.    Raveners can be used well as either backfield hunters with Deathspitters (18 deathspitter shots is about 3 dead Devastators, which can be a huge hit to a gunline army, especially if they only have one lascannon team or some such),  or when taken cheaply and en masse, they can become an excellent blender to punch through chaff. Really, it is the fact that Raveners are one of our best ways to offer a multi-threat unit where they can impact the game on the turn they arrive, and they can do damage in both melee and shooting.  That is something to consider.

On the downside, Raveners are squishy with only a 5+ save, so they will still die quickly even to small arms fire.  They also get expensive with Deathspitters, so they really rely on being able to pop up where they need to be.  As chaff killers, a full unit of 9 is just over 200 points, but for just a bit more, you could get 20 genestealers which is more attacks and can be more resilient thanks to the 5++.  Because they rely on reserves, they are vulnerable to counter-play, but at least with Deathspitters and their 18 inch range, it is a bit easier to overcome this.

86/100. A Solid B that is creeping towards a B+, mostly because 5 bug Ravener teams with Deathspitters are great for sniping out backfield shooters like Devastators or heavy weapon teams, and they can still fight well enough that it takes more than a casual unit to really tie them down or eliminate them.

Sky Slasher Swarm:

So the winged Rippers are still here, and well, they are patently worse than their Troop cousins, but they have a limited use at least.

Sky Slashers lost deep strike, and their stats stayed essentially the same.  They are the same cost as Rippers now, and while Sky Slashers are movement 12, they have to deploy on the board or travel in a Tyrannocyte (which is funny but not advisable).  They don’t hit very hard, and they don’t live very long.  In short, take all the bad of Rippers and take away the good.

That said, there is one clear use for them: Brigades.  At barely over 30 a pop for a unit, you have 9 wounds that can go run around and claim objectives before dying, and while they are more expensive than Mucolids, they will likely do more than just die.  If you want to take a Brigade but don’t want to invest in Fast Attack, Sky Slashers away! Also, it is worth mentioning that you either need to make your own or buy from Forgeworld, and I have to say it, building those little winged teeth-snakes is a pain.

30/100. Pretty big fail.  They just aren’t cheap enough or don’t produce enough attacks to do much, and typically, Rippers are the superior choice.


Ah, the winged Termagant.  Well, they are mostly unchanged from 7th edition, and while not having the customization or as offensively tuned as Termagants, they have some uses.

The Gargoyle’s stat line has changed really, and they are still quite mono-build.  You get a Fleshborer and a Blinding venom.   Blinding venom did get an upgrade as now it just a CC weapon, and if you manage to put through an unsaved wound, the entire unit suffers -1 to hit for that turn.  That’s not too bad, and really, if you can combo some charges off with Gargoyles swinging first, you can really blunt the swing back of another unit.   You can give them Toxin Sacs and Adrenal Glands, but neither are very necessary.   The one big thing that Gargoyles have in their favor is that they Fly, which means that they do make a solid tarpit.  A full squad of 30 can likely absorb a charge and still function to some extent, and they can either Fall Back over their attackers to line up some Fleshborer shots at more vulnerable units or simply Fall Back and pump some rounds into the charging unit.   Movement 12 plus advance can be helpful for taking real estate on the board early and forcing your opponent to react, but that assumes that you are going first, which Tyranids are not always the best at doing if going the horde route.

Gargoyles have all the same problems as our other little bugs, namely a 6+ save is almost no save at all, and at T3, pretty much everything doesn’t have too much trouble wounding them.  They are our most expensive little bug (I don’t count Genestealers as little), so for the same price, you get either 30 Gargoyles or 45 Termagants.  For a tarpit unit, I’d rather have 45 Termagants since they die just as easy. Really, Gargoyles need to either live a little longer or hit a little harder to justify their point cost as they can never really do much damage, and as a tarpit, there are superior options.

50/100. Failing, but not an epic fail.  Gargoyles need a bit of love, but if you are hell bent on using them, they can maybe do more good than harm, maybe.


The Harpy is back, baby. It keeps a lot of rules and gains some new ones, and overall, the Harpy is a solid threat vector that doesn’t require too much support.

The Harpy, like all of our big kits, received an upgrade in the Hive Ship with an increase to Strength and Toughness 6 and 12 wounds.  This makes them just a bit more survivable, and it takes a dedicated effort to quickly bring one down.  The big change is that Harpies are fast as all get out with a healthy starting speed of 10 to 30 inches.  Yes, that’s right, 30 inches.  Harpies can zoom across the board, and they can easily pick up first turn charges without a problem. Their melee weapon isn’t too bad with -2 AP and 2 damage, plus reroll 1s.  The real punch to Harpies is that they can bring two bio-cannons, either heavy venoms or Stranglethorn cannons. Stranglethorns are great for clearing out infantry and getting the Harpy to essentially BS 3+, but I favor Venom Cannons as 2d3 S9 Ap-1 Dmg D3 shots is not too bad at all, especially for hunting armor, and it is the cheaper version, making a Harpy one of our cheapest Monsters. Don’t forget the  Tyranid heavy bolter either (Stringer Salvos), which can help add just a bit of extra heat.   Sonic Screech is still around and is much easier to use now that Harpies don’t have to spend a turn landing to fight, and being able to charge a unit and guarantee that it goes last in combat is huge for taking on high powered models like Bobby G, Abbadon, or a Knight.  Putting a Harpy and a big hitter into the same target lets you prioritize combat order elsewhere without worrying that you your opponent is going to burn 2 CPs to let their big badass get to swing.  The Spore Mine Cysts are fun but don’t do that much damage, but the ability to drop down Mines to get in your opponent’s way should not be too underestimated as you can get up to 3.   While Harpies don’t fight well, being able to charge a Super Sonic flyer is important, and because Harpies fly, charging a unit of chaff and forcing them to either stay there or fall back can make your opponent make tough choices, especially because if the Harpy lives, it flies away and shoots again.

The downside to the Harpy? Only 3 attacks at WS 4+, so don’t expect too much fight out of it.  The Harpy also needs Synapse to be effective, and there is no Synapse that can keep up with it except for Synapse that can come out of reserve.  T6 is all good, but a 4+ armor save is not, and well, it just means that a Lascannon gives no armor saves, and that’s bad.

88/100. A Solid B+ that is on the verge of greatness. For a relatively low cost and some decent offensive throughput, the Harpy is a great gunboat and even first turn charge threat that won’t kill much, but will prove annoying, especially coupled with another first turn charge.

Hive Crone

Just like Harpy, the Crone was upgraded in the time between 7th and 8th, and if you want some fast anti-vehicle and anti-flyer, you just need to look here.

The Hive Crone shares just about exact same stat-line as the Harpy, but with one extra attack that essentially goes to its upgraded Tail spike, which if it hits, packs a wallop at S8 AP -2 and D3 damage. The Crone brings different guns with a S6  heavy flamer, which is awesome, but you also get Tentaclids.  They are no longer one shot weapons but rather Assault 2 S5 D1 guns that reroll hits against targets that Fly and do mortal wounds to vehicles on a 4+.  Like the Harpy, the Crone also has a Stringer Salvo too.  The Hive Crone actually packs a fair amount of dakka and while Tentaclids are really best at doing wounds to vehicles, there are enough shots at S5 or higher here to do some damage to most targets.   The Hive Crone is much more focused of a gunboat and a fast assault element, and I have had good success using two together to move forward and take big chunks, if not kill, any vehicle not properly blocked by chaff.  Crones also have Scything wings that are not too bad, and all in all, there is actually a lot of kill here for just a bit over 150 points.  The Hive Crone is actually our cheapest big kit, but with its speed and firepower, it can be a real threat that your opponent has to engage.

Just like the Harpy, the downside is that the Crone is not all that durable, and it still works best with Synapse to help it choose its shots, especially Tentaclids.  It is easy for the Crone to outpace Synapse, so you need to keep this in mind.  4 attacks at WS 4+ isn’t a blender either, so you can’t just throw a Crone into a fight unsupported and expect good things.  You need to assume that it will die, so it is about setting tempo and doing damage.

89/100. Again, just on the cusp of greatness, but for a low price you get a lot of Monster here, and especially if you are in a meta dominated by Flyers, a few Hive Crones go a long way to even those odds.

Mucolid Spores

Oh how the mighty have fallen.  No longer than go-to troop tax, Mucolid spores will likely see far less play, but that said, they are still a shocking source of mortal wounds.

The Mucolid spore is unchanged in terms of stat line, but with no more instant death, it is a bit harder to kill them.  They do exactly what you expect them to do. If at the end of a charge phase they were within 3 inches of an enemy unit, they explode. It can only hit the closest enemy unit, but on a 1, nothing happens, on a 2-5, D3 mortal wounds, and a 6, D6 mortal wounds.  Getting a hot hand can make even a single Mucolid a dangerous thing.  The 3 inch bubble of “don’t come here” can be helpful as our own form of chaff.   You can deploy them via reserve on your first turn and create a little mine field around more static units like Exocrines, and again, anyone coming too close is going to start taking heat. They also Fly, so they can assault and explode against Flyers. The one nice thing is that their rules are super clear here: They don’t count as Kill Points, Destroy a Unit (never counted for the purposes of any victory conditions), but they can’t control an objective and if you only have them left on the table, you lose.  On the bright side, they are always free when they are generated.

The downside here is that they are 5 points more expensive than before, they lost Shrouding, and when they arrive from reserve, they must be placed more than 12 inches away.  This makes it quite hard to surprise anyone with them. That is really what hurts them overall is that it becomes far too difficult to effectively utilize them out of reserve other than to form an unexpected chaff wall around your lines.

50/100. Not so good here. They are an interesting way to block off charge lanes, but it is too difficult to take advantage of their ability to enter from reserves.

Spore Mines

Spore Mines were never super scary, but they are toned down a bit just like Mucolids, and have the same uses, really.

There isn’t much to say about the other than that they are slow and die to just about anything.  They also doubled in points, which is a bit shocking.  They do mortal wounds, which is nice, and a unit of 3 is capable of doing 9 mortal wounds, but that is super corner case. Just like Mucolids, you can take them as an anti-assault curtain.  You can use them to bubble wrap Exocrines or Biovores, and then anyone trying to charge in is going to take a lot of mortal wounds.  Other than that, they cannot enter from reserve within 12, and with movement 3, they are pretty much never going to get where they need to be. They are great when free though, and just like Mucolids, they do not count towards victory conditions.

40/100. Even worse than Mucolids.  Again, you can do some interesting plays here, but yah, just create them for free from Biovores or Sporocysts.

Well, that wraps up Fast Attack.  There is some good in here, but there are a few stinkers as well.  We are almost done with the Index, and next time, we’ll take a look at the most stacked of stacked slots in the army, Heavy Support! Be sure to head over to TFG Radio and check out all that we do, and be sure to get those tickets for LVO.  I do autographs for a reasonable rate. Thanks as always for reading.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



About Danny Ruiz

Long-long time 40K player, one of the original triumvirate of head 40K judges at LVO, writer, educator, tyranid-enthusiast, disciple of Angron, man about town, afflicted with faction ADD.
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4 years ago

I’ve been loving all of these; thank you so much for doing them!

I can’t wait for the one on heavy support. I’m running a bunch of screamer-killers at the moment. At barely over 100 points they pack a punch!

4 years ago
Reply to  Loofa4

Yeah, Danny is doing a great job!

Gordon Danke
Gordon Danke
4 years ago

Not gonna lie, I’m more than a little annoyed by the fact that certain armies can just spam a few super cheap units to net a ton of command points, but other armies are screwed because command points are so heavily tied to detachments and spamming large numbers of units. Play Custodes, Grey Knights, or other elite armies? Well, screw you, you don’t get command points because… well, because. I can’t think of a valid reason why horde armies but not elite armies should have access to potentially game-winning rerolls and strategems.

4 years ago
Reply to  Gordon Danke

If you have access to cheap HQ’s, you can run multiple detachments without even bringing troops, and if you are Imperium a little Bobby G in a detachment of your choice gives a lot of command points.

Tyranid HQ’s are not cheap… well, not in the Index. The silly Malanthrope really opens up the abuse.

4 years ago
Reply to  Jural

Do you think armies like Grey Knights and Custodes have access to “cheap” anything? If you actually try building lists, you might be suprised at how you’re either capped at 4-6 cp, or get pigeonholed into spamming min units of the cheapest available option with few to no upgrades to squeeze in a couple extra command points, which makes for a pretty weak army because you can’t buy support units, heavy weapons, etc. And if your answer is “well, just ally in/play a different army”, well, I don’t have anything nice to say so I won’t say any more.

4 years ago
Reply to  Gordon

6 command points really is about what I run right now. And it’s enough… for now.

But I can see your concern once the new codexes drop and you have more than one stratagem you’d like to use.

If you want to go 100% Grey Knight, there aren’t cheap options to run any of the detachments effectively at a minimum, unfortunately. I haven’t seen the new Codex, hopefully you get one of the following:

1- updated unit costs
2- Stratagems that are low CP and effective
3- special characters or rules that allow you more CP or CP regeneration

4 years ago
Reply to  Gordon

Spamming Rippers or Sky-Slashers is, as presented in the articles, not a good idea. Sure, you get command points. Are 200 points of rippers going to have the same effect as 200 points of Grey Knights? Nah.

4 years ago

Pretty much the same as my take on this section.

I kind of also want to try Raveners with SpineFists, especially if Hordes really end up being a major thing. Just a ludicrous number of Pistol shots that, even at S3, should help quite a bit to clear out Conscripts, Brimstones, or Boyz. Still disappointed that they can’t get Adrenal Glands, tho.

To my mind, what really hurt Gargoyles was the changes to the Cover Rules. They were one of the best Screening Units in the Game due to their ridiculously high positioning, but Intervening Units don’t do anything against Shooting anymore.

4 years ago

Being a little harsh here on the best warlord in the game ( mucolid spore). Being able to deny slay the warlord can be very good.

4 years ago

I’m kind of bummed about Shrikes. They are still a casual unit choice, but in earlier editions at least they had some bite. Mine were silly expensive at 40-60pts per model, but when they hit a unit, things died. Now they are a cheaper rubber hammer without flavour. 50/100

Raveners STILL CAN’T HAVE ADRENAL GLANDS! Or Toxin Sacs. And they still suffer from need of forward synapse, which force you to really build around them if you want them in your list. Plus they lost an attack (only 4 rending claws attacks now, earlier they had 5 on the charge). Red Terror don’t give them synapse. They bounce on most units and are easily killed while being expensive. Looks like shelf material. 40/100

Gargoyles not providing cover saves nor LOS for Flyrants anymore (was a formation), big blow. They have a combo trick with Swarmlord and bad-touching/surrounding enemy vehicles, outside that I don’t like them. 50/100.

Sky Slashers, can at least fly over screens. 40/100.

Harpy, need forward synapse but has decent shooting and a nice abeit situational combo with Sonic Screech. 80/100

Hive Crones, need forward synapse. Don’t do much offensively but Tentaclids have decen range and they are cheap. 80/100.

Spores are nice as produced units, wouldn’t take them starting in a roster.

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