Tyranid Index Review: Heavy Support and Fortifications

Hello everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, we reach the last of the Index, but arguably one of our best slots to fill, Heavy Support!  If you want to know how to bring the thunder with the big guns, make sure to head over to Frontline’s Tactics Corner.

Our Heavy Support slot is home to some of our biggest and baddest bugs, and really, how you utilize Heavy Support is going to have a big impact on your overall list.  Let’s start it off!

Carnifex

Oh, the mighty Carnifex, once our biggest of bads is back with a far improved outlook on life now that it has accepted that it is a medium basher, not the big stick.

The Carnifex has had its stat-line changed for both good and bad. It has seen an increase to T7 and 8 wounds, which is key as the Carnifex never degrades, but it still retains its 3+ armor save.  With its smaller model, it is a bit easier to get the Carnifex to be obscured while in cover, so it is not as difficult to get that sweet 2+ on it. They also received a slight speed bump to movement 7, and their attacks stayed at a respectable 4.   Their WS and BS is what one could expect from the conversion at 4+, which isn’t great but is average.  They are still the paragons of customization with the ability to take advantage of the full buffet of Tyranid ugrades and weapon options.  You can the old fashioned Screamer Killer (my favorite) with two scything talons and bio-plasma (now, much improved as well).  You can also give them Crushing Claws to make them far better at cracking through T7 and above, but that’s likely out of their forte now.  We’ll get to that. You can also still bring out the old dakka fex although quad-devourers are not worth the few points you save, but quad-Deathspitters are still a good choice for some high volume firepower.  You can also throw on a heavy venom cannon or stranglethorn cannon for some larger range, and this isn’t a terrible idea as a Deathspitter/Stranglethorn Fex is not a bad horde control as it can still fight.  The Thresher Scythe is actually my favorite addition here as it allows a Carnifex to swap out its standard attacks for 4D3 S4 AP -1 attacks, and this doesn’t take up a weapon slot, so a Dakka-Fex with 12 shots at S7 and then 4D3 attacks at S4 AP -1 is not too bad taking on chaff units.  For under 100 points, you can get this package, and really, taking 2 together to work as a team is a pretty effective way to trim through chaff, especially since most chaff doesn’t have too much of a chance of really hurting the Fexs back. If you are dedicated to a Nidzilla list but find yourself bogged down by chaff, look into a few dakka-fexes.

The big downside to Carnifexes is that they are no longer our anti-tank melee threats as their  strength was moved down to 6.  With Crushing Claws, they go up to S12, but with the -1 to hit, they are only hitting on 5s . Without Old One Eye to boost them, your odds of doing damage to anything T7 or higher is the same with Scything Talons, but at least Talons get to reroll 1s.  It is best to think of this as a role readjustment rather than a nerf; Carnifexes are inexpensive, customizable, and can do some serious damage, just not to heavy targets.  Carnifexes are best for crowd control or taking on elite infantry, and well, 3 screamer killers can still do some damage when thrown against a heavy target in unison.

90/100. Redemption for one of our iconic monsters, but keep in mind they are not going wreck vehicles like they used to.

Exocrine

The Exocrine never made too big of a splash on the competitive scene, but early adopters are in for a treat. Exocrines are one of best sources of long range death.

The Exocrine received a big boost to its statline, jumping up to T8 and 12 wounds.  Not bad for a Gun Beast.  It’s special rules are much improved, namely Gun Beast allows the Exocrine to fire twice in a single shooting phase so long as it did not move, and it cannot charge in the same turn.  That’s not a big loss at all.  The Exocrine also kept Symbiotic Targetting, so when it does not move, it gets a flat +1 to hit.  That’s sweet as the bio-gruel in the digestion pool gets.  The Bio-Plasmic Cannon is solid ranged firepower at Heavy 6, S7 AP -3 and D2. Shooting that twice at BS 3+?  That will bring some pain, even on a T8 target.  Tyranids are not entirely meant to be a heavy ranged army, but this is still legit firepower from one of our beasties.   Of course, the monster stat line helps the Exocrine fight better than most artillery or shooty vehicles, namely with 3 attacks WS 4+ S7, AP -2, D2 (when healthy of course).  That’s not going to let the Exocrine actually threaten a unit in melee, but it does mean that small, elite units have to be careful when charging as the Exocrine can do some real damage back, far more than most artillery.

On the downside, the Exocrine is a static piece, so you lose a lot of tactical flexibility as you have to deploy where you want to be for the game, for the most part.  If you are not double-tapping, you aren’t getting the full benefit of your resources.  It also needs a Synapse baby-sitter, so you are spending a bit more points than you might think although with the ubiquitous Malanthrope, an Exocrine in a good spot with cover and a -1 to hit aura is not easy to shift at range.  The Exocrine will also be stuck forever against a chaff unit, and having to fall back with one of these bad boys? Terrible.  If you want to do a shooting bug list, the Exocrine should be your first look.  That said, if you are looking for the most tuned, points efficient option, Genestealer Cult/Tyranid/AM may be better for things like Earthshakers.

90/100. An amazing Monster that is an absolute anchor for shooty nids, but a bit static.

Tyrannofex

The bio-tank is back with better rules, but it still lags behind its little sibling the Exocrine.

On the plus side, the Tyrannofex is one of our beefiest Monsters now with T8 and 14 wounds.  It also saw a strength increase to 7, which is handy for one of its weapons.  Its rules were updated to give it the same double-tap as the Exocrine, essentially doubling its offensive output, and it has the Bio-Tank rule that allows it to ignore the penalty for moving and shooting heavy weapons.  Its weapons also received a nice upgrade.  Acid Spray moved up to S7 (when healthy) and D3 damage.  That’s pretty intense for an auto-hit weapon at range 18. Fleshborer Hives are also upgrades to Heavy 20 at S5, which makes it a nice anti-horde weapon, wounding T4 on 3s. The big bazooka, the Rupture Cannon, is now Heavy 2 S10 AP -1 D3 damage, but if both shots hit, they both become -4 AP and D6 damage.  This makes it our hardest hitting ranged weapon in the entire army save for the Dire-Biocannons of the Hierophant. The Tyrannofex even fights slightly better than the Exocrine with an additional attack at the same profile.  Again, elite units like Terminators need to be wary of thinking that an Exocrine is an easy mark.

On the downside, the Tyrannofex does not have the cool targeting rules of the Exocrine, so it is relying on BS 4+. It is a CP hungry beast if you take the Rupture Cannon to try and make sure those big hits stick.  The other two weapons, Acid Spray and Fleshborer Hive, are short ranged, which means the Tyrannofex has to move to increase its threat range or arrive via Tyrannocyte, but prevents the double shoot that turn, and then you are hoping it will survive to be able to plant its feet and shoot twice in the next turn.  This is not ideal to say the least.  The Fleshborer hive can be a good anti-horde weapon, but 30 devil-gants to do it better for just a few more points.  Acid Spray is a great weapon, but again, the only way to really use it is to bring a Tyrannocyte, and then you have to hope the T-Fex survives a turn or does not get wrapped up by chaff. Just like the Exocrine, the Tyrannofex needs a synapse babysitter, but again, insert Malanthrope, and the T-Fex becomes even harder to take down at range.

70/100. Barely passing because the Rupture Cannon really adds big hitting, long range AT, but even then, an Exocrine might just be better.

Biovores

The venerable Biovore, our first gun-beast, may be old, but damn, can it still kick butt.

The Biovore did not get too much of a stat change except another wound, making it fairly resilient to small arms fire and it has a chance to survive even a big hit.  This of course is mostly irrelevant as its weapon, Spore Mine Launcher, does not require Line of Sight (thanks FAQ), so you can safely hide these bad bugs out of LoS and still rain down death.  The Launcher is also improved as now it is just a flat chance to do mortal wounds, which makes the Biovore an excellent weapon against high Toughness, strong save targets like Knights or Magnus.   They are also one of the few units that gets a benefit for missing, namely being able to drop a spore mine near the target.  This really helps gum up movement and charge lanes, forcing your opponent to dedicate at least some resources to kill the mine or risk taking an extra mortal wound.  Biovores are also ever so slightly cheaper, and taking a unit of 3 barely costs over a 100 points.   That’s not bad at all considering that they can stay safe out of LoS and possibly inflict 3D3 mortal wounds a turn (super unlikely), but even consistently putting 2 or 3 mortal wounds on a target can quickly add up, especially at 48 inch range.  Even going full crazy and taking 9-15 isn’t exactly breaking the bank,  and being able to consistently do 10+ mortal wounds a turn is actually a legitimate threat, especially for a unit that can hide.   Heck, they are so cheap that if you are trying to max out a brigade but are not using your heavy slots, a single one is a useful, cheap seat filler.

The downside is what you expect for a small mortar: they suck at combat and need Synapse.  They are weak against hordes as they do not do enough damage, but then that’s not their job.  Biovores are excellent at weakening or even spiking and flat out wrecking vehicles or monsters.  Again, don’t forget placing those missed shots as even several unexpected Spore Mines can really cause headaches for your opponent.

95/100. An amazing unit that only gets better with spam.  Seriously, if you have 10+ of these, you can bring some serious pain.

Trygon +Trygon Prime

The big snakes are back and better than ever thanks to a functioning Tunneling rule.  If you don’t have these, get them.

The Trygon received a rather modest upgrade to their statline, namely S7 and 12 Wounds.  That’s not bad at all really as they are a bit cheaper than before.  They each pump out a decent number of attacks at WS 3+, and they have the super Monstrous Scything Talons which are reroll 1s and AP -3 and D6 damage.  This makes Trygons a real threat to most targets, and they have enough attacks that fishing for 5s against T8 isn’t as unlikely as you may think.  They still have their guns, which are nice but nothing to write home about.  The real money is that Trygons can arrive via reserve but more importantly, the Tunneling rule allows them to bring with them any Troops choice.  No size restriction, just a single Troops unit.  Seeing as how our Troops choices are actually legitimately good, this opens up a whole host of plays.  Whether it’s a first turn 30 Hormagaunt screen popping up and being Swarmlorded into the enemy lines or 30 Devil-Gants punching a hole through chaff, you not only get to deploy a unit onto the table, you also have a big melee threat suddenly there as well.   Granted, Trygons are more expensive than Tyrannocytes, but you get a lot more bug for the points.  Trygons can also be upraded with Adrenal Glands, so an 8 inch charge is far more doable than a 9 inch charge, especially if you have a CP waiting.   The Prime is a bit more expensive, but on demand Synapse can be essential, especially if you have a fast moving army that will likely leave the backfield Synapse in the dust.  Trygon Primes and Devil-Gants work well together since you can drop anywhere on the table and your Gants will still be able to target whomever they want.

The downside to the Trygons are, well, nothing really.  They do get pricey, especially with Devil-Gants, Genestealers, or Warriors, but they are worth the cost.  S7 isn’t amazing because they can struggle to kill the truly big monsters and vehicles out there, but then they have a chance, and you don’t have to send them at T8 targets either.   You need to know their limitations, but as a tactical asset, they radically change the dynamics of list building.

95/100. A powerful bug that rewards smart play and smart list building, and a definite must-have.

Mawloc

Arguably the second most spammed Tyranid in 7th edition, the Mawloc is not what it once was, but that said, it still has its uses.

The Mawloc did not get much of an upgrade in the change over, staying largely the same except for an increase in attacks and wounds.  This balances out that Mawlocs do not have Monstrous Scything Talons, so they do not have any AP and are D1.  12 wounds is nice, especially since a Mawloc is barely over a hundred points, so you are really paying less than 10 points for a T6 3+ save wound.  Keep that in mind.  Terror from the Deep has changed, and it is no longer capable of annihilating units in a single volley.  Now, a Mawloc can arrive from reserve anywhere on the table more than 1 inch away from enemy units, so very hard to counter-play, and any enemy units within 2 inches take mortal wounds (max 3).  A Mawloc cannot charge unfortunately, but then they’d likely be far too powerful if that was the case.  A fun combo is a Mawloc and Deathleaper, and for just under 200 points, you have a good chance of sniping out a character.  As both can deploy so close to the enemy, doing even 1 mortal wound to a character can make sure that Deathleaper has the gas to finish the target off, and well, if your Swarmlorded Genestealers just hit a conscript wall and blended through most of them, a dead Commissar might just mean that your opponent’s entire front

line just disappeared.  1-3 mortal wounds isn’t a lot to be sure, so it is easy to dismiss them, but the trick here is that Mawlocs can immediately bridge the table and threaten backfield units like Artillery or Devastators, and your opponent has to focus their attention.  If you are advancing up the table with other big monsters as well as some genestealers or other heavy threats and suddenly your opponent has 2 Mawlocs in the middle of their army, they have tough choices to make.

Of course, Mawlocs are not very threatening to anything with a good save or T7 and above.  They may have 9 attacks, but these are only for mulching light infantry or other soft targets.  The lack of any significant way to do multiple damage (aside from its one Maw attack) means that the Mawloc is not a huge threat to vehicles or other monsters, but again, that’s not its job.  They do suffer terribly when they degrade, dropping down to S4 if near death, so once a Mawloc starts to take damage, it becomes less and less of an issue.   Still, the Mawloc’s job is to die, and hopefully, die well.

85/100. A cheap monster that is the new Distraction Carnifex, but if used wisely, you can force your opponent into misplays.

Toxicrene

A super cool looking monster that brings both melee and shooting, but it is unfortunately missing that special something.

The Toxicrene was an overlooked gem in 7th edition because it was cheap and still capable of kicking some butt, but in 8th, it hasn’t quite recaptured that magic.  The statline is improved with S and T 7, movement 8, 12 Wounds, and a 3+ save.   This is not bad at all, especially since the Toxicrene is not all that expensive as monsters go.  The Toxicrene has a decent amount of shooting with Spores that are Assault D6, range 12, S3, Dmg D3, but it can reroll wounds, which makes it great at taking down multi-wound infantry like Primaris marines.  Its Massive Lashes are a similar weapon with a lower range but -1 AP.  A Toxicrene that gets closer to a unit can put down some surprising firepower before charging in to get even more personal.  In melee, the Toxicrene puts out 6 S7 AP -1 D D3 attacks, rerolling wounds, which isn’t too bad at all.  The reroll to wounds lets a Toxicrene even threaten some heavy targets so long as they don’t have a 2+ save.   The Toxicrene also has two different mechanics to cause mortal wounds at the end of the melee phase, and while not all that guaranteed, it could help against a high value target.

The problem with the Toxicrene is that it just doesn’t have enough in any one avenue.  It is not fast enough to really guarantee that it is going to get into the scrum.  It does not shoot well enough to really threaten most targets, either a high volume to hurt hordes or high value to take down elite infantry or vehicles. It does not fight well enough either as AP -1 on such a big beastie is a bit lackluster.  Lastly, it is just not cheap enough to justify all these other issues.  If the Toxicrene was sub-130, it would certainly be more in the running for a starting spot, but as it stands now, there are just too many better options.

65/100. Unfortunately, failing here but not by much.  The Toxicrene just needs a little bit more to be worthy of acute interest or even just a move to a less stacked slot.

Sporocyst

Hey, we have an official Fortification now! The Sporocyst has changed roles and changed its outlook on life after meeting with a life coach.  Let’s see those changes.

The Sporocyst had some work done to its stats, namely an increase to 12 wounds, T6, and D6 attacks.  It still hits on a 5+, and it can still take 5 deathspitters/venom cannons/barbed stranglers, which gives it decent firepower.  The Barbed strangler is generally worth the points as it helps the Sporocyst put in work against large units as 5D6 shots at BS 4+ is much better than 15 shots at BS 5+ most times.  The Sporocyst also gets a super Spore Launcher, essentially a Mucolid Launcher, and it can dish out some decent mortal wounds to anything within 9 inches.  If you miss, you can drop down a Mucolid spore or 3 spore mines.  Not too bad at all.   The Sporocyst is also a Synapse extender, so as long as it is in Synapse, you can pull Synapse from it within 8.  That can really help shy little Malanthropes project their Synapse without exposing themselves too much.  As it is a Fortification, it can fire when engaged, cannot move, but it can be dropped down before the first turn, essentially allowing it deploy anywhere more than 9 inches from an enemy.  This can be useful for denying enemy movement and pinning their chaff or fast assault elements into their deployment zone.  If you are going first, it can also be an easy way to make sure that your first turn charges or reserves are within synapse as even a walking Tyrant can be fast enough to get the Sporocyst into range.

The problem with the Sporocyst is that it is just anemic when compared to other Fortifications. T6 and 12 wounds is pretty laughable, especially with only a 4+ save.  Since it is a Fortification, you need to take a special detachment to include one, and depending on your army build, you may not have a third Detachment to use at 2K points.  It cannot hide infantry inside, and really, for its points, you are not getting much durability or even offensive power from it.   The Mucolid Launcher is cool, but at only range 9, it does not threaten much, and it cannot even drop down into range. The Sporocyst is a reactive that way; it requires your opponent to come to you.   Coupled with its lack of overall durability, it is just not doing what it needs to do.   Really, its best use is either to drop down in front of your opponent to help pin them in a bit or as a backfield Synapse beacon to help a single Malanthrope cover more of your shooty elements, but for roughly 150 points, it is just better to take more Synapse.

55/100. Failing, but there is room to build on here, and really, Sporecysts either need to be cheaper or hardier.

Ok all, that’s the entire Index.  When will we see a full Tyranid Codex with the return of the Reaper of Obliterax and the Norn Crown? What other psychic powers will we get?  What benefits with Leviathan get that Behemoth does not?  I have no flipping clue, but honestly, I am happy with what we have now, so I can wait for a bit.  Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for one more final review as I take a look at the Forgeworld Index!  Be sure to check out TFG Radio, and of course, LVO isn’t all that far away.

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

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About Danny Ruiz

Long-long time 40K player, part of the triumvirate of head 40K judges at LVO, writer, educator, tyranid-enthusiast, disciple of Angron, man about town.

7 Responses to “Tyranid Index Review: Heavy Support and Fortifications”

  1. Michael Corr
    Michael Corr August 11, 2017 4:54 am #

    I know that Exocrines have been tearing up my Deathwatch recently! These guys are brutal when stationary and really tough to kill.

  2. Adro August 11, 2017 6:30 am #

    Hi Danny,

    One question:

    How can you considerate biovores 95/100?
    In my experience (Playing competitive mode with friends) 3 biovores only do 1 mortal wound each turn (The average is 1.5).
    It is true they only cost 36 Ppm but 3 of them does not do a lot of damage and if you want to spam them I prefer take a second exocrine.

    The spore mine you put when they miss use to die in the next turn (do not need more than 1-2 scouts shouting it) without doing any damage.

    In the last battles I play with one model putting in the back to take one point and yes it is really useful but not a 95/100.

    Maybe I am missing something? Do you recommend me prove something with them?

    Thanks for all

    • Danny Ruiz
      Danny Ruiz August 11, 2017 6:52 am #

      Hey!

      I rate them high because of several factors. First, they are cheap, so the point investment is low. Second, they open up list building options in terms of trying to get CPs or fill out a Heavy Support or take say a Spearhead Detachment with 2x Exocrines and 1 biovore for a lot of firepower, but the biovore is so cheap that it opens up more room in your other detachments. Third, mortal wounds are important for dealing with certain units like Knights or Magnus, and even being able to do 3-4 consistently per turn can really be the difference. With the exception of the Exocrine, we lack a lot of ways to deal with strong saves at range, so the biovore fills an important niche. Fourth, they do not need LoS now thanks to the FAQ, so you can hide them at the bottom of a ruin, so they are a bit more survivable from other gunlines. Lastly, being able to place spore mines when you miss is huge to me. It opens up a lot of tactical play in positioning, especially with 4+ biovores as one or two spore mines are easy to kill, but 4+ is not without expending far more resources than is efficient for your opponent. If suddenly a squad has to divert their attention to clear them out, then that squad was not shooting at my other units, and especially when coupled with a horde army where the same weapons used on the mines would be effective on your little bugs, I’ll take that trade. Since you can place the mines anywhere within 6 and more than 3 inches away from an enemy model, you can really start to gum up movement since your opponent cannot start to deal with them until the psychic phase, and if a spore mine absorbs a smite? All the better.

      Of course, I could be overvaluing any of these, and perhaps it is more my local scene where I expect to see Magnus or some such. I am always open for good debate if it means more knowledge for the Hive Mind! Thanks for the thoughtful question!

      • Adro August 11, 2017 7:24 am #

        Good points, I will try to put 5-6 in the next battle and see how its work.

        Two last questions:

        How do you deal with the Instinctive Behaviour and the biovores?

        I use to play a malanthrope to go with the army so my exocrine does not have problems until the last turns but as the biovores have 48′ I find some games they just have to shoot the nearest unit pretty fast (like second turn).

        and with Instinctive Behaviour you still can shoot with Biovores without vision, cant you?

        Thanks again 🙂

        • Hugz August 11, 2017 9:00 am #

          Unfortunately, instinctive behavior requires that a unit out of synapse shoot at the closest visible enemy unit, so as it currently stands biovores cant shoot without vision if they don’t have synapse.

  3. Loofa4 August 12, 2017 6:26 am #

    These are great. What do you think of the FW carnifex? It can wreck hordes and tanks

  4. WestRider August 12, 2017 4:12 pm #

    Again pretty similar to my take. A few notes:
    – The Trygon has Massive ScyTals, not Monstrous. You got the Rules right, just the name wrong. Yet another place where GW has created confusion with overly similar names.
    – The regular Trygon does have a downside: It has to take a ToxinSpike or Prehensile Pincer. The Prime is awesome in part because its Electrostatic Rattle is optional, unlike the other Tail Weapons.
    – When using Mawlocs to snipe out Support Characters, don’t forget to bring it in so it also tags whatever they’re supporting. D3 Mortal Wounds might not mean that much to a Conscript blob, but every little bit helps.
    – The Sporocyst would also be significantly better if it could generate Spore Mines/Mucolids even if there were no Enemy Units within 9″.

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