Hey all, Danny here from TFG Radio to go over the last of all the cool new Tyranid rules, the Forgeworld Index! If you worry about how to counter the big toys, head over to Frontline’s Tactics Corner for all the tips and tricks.
So Forgeworld gave us some updates, and well, clarity issues aside, there is some good and not so good here, but if you want to bring out the Biggest Bugs, you need look no further. This will be a bit longer than usual since it is unlikely these will change anytime soon outside of FAQs, I am going to dive a bit deeper.
The Malanthrope is now our go-to HQ choice that provides cheap synapse and a huge defensive buff as well as the ability to lower drops thanks to Monstrous Brood.
The Malanthrope is our cheapest HQ choice by 10 points, and seeing as there are no upgrades to take, for under a 100 points, you get a T5, 9W character that hides quite easily. Honestly, that alone would make a Malanthrope a good budget HQ choice for filling out Detachments, but oh no, we’re not done. There are few other minor bonuses as well. Thanks to the FAQ, this beasty has FLY, so you can put one in ruins or jump over models for better positioning. The Malanthrope also causes a mortal wound to each unit within 1 inch on a 4+ at the end of combat, and if you get a Malanthrope into combat, and a unit is wiped out while it was within 1 inch (so it gets the last kill most likely), then all models with the same HIVE FLEET keyword get to reroll hit rolls of 1 (any hit roll, mind you) against units that had at least one keyword of the slain unit. While this isn’t likely to happen every game as Malanthropes are back line units, it can happen, and it can actually make a Tyranid shooting list far more accurate. They also can be purchased in squads up to 3 who deploy as one but then are independent, so you can take a few with only one drop. Oh, they also have a tiny rule called “Shrouding Spores”. This little old thing creates a 3 inch bubble of -1 to hit at range, and it affects all HIVE FLEET units, so yes, that does mean any unit, including Monsters. So yah, each one provides a defensive buff to any unit in our army, and as cheap as they are, it is easy to take 2 or 3. The -1 to hit at range is absolutely vital if you want to run any monster-mash list, or really, any list at all. It is one of our only defensive abilities besides one unit having Catalyst up, and in a world of heavy shooting, the -1 to hit has a huge impact, even against Bobby G. A wave of 60+ infantry all defended by -1 to hit as well as maybe a few big hitters behind the line can make dealing with them at range difficult, and even as a defensive bunker, a Malanthrope with an Exocrine or two (or 9 biovores) becomes a resilient firebase that is hard to take down.
What are the downsides? Well, Malanthropes don’t fight very well with only 4 attacks at S4, but then, for so cheap, who cares? They are not there to fight; they are there to keep the rest of your army alive.
100/100. Too good. The Malanthrope either needs to be weaker and easier to snipe out or more expensive as it simply too efficient of an HQ choice. That said, you should have 2 or 3.
The super Lictor is still here, still a gorgeous model with great stats, but it is still just a bit shy of being a stand-out.
On the plus side, the Dimacharon saw a big stat increase with an increase to Move 12, WS 2+, and 14 Wounds. Yes, the Dimacharon is our most accurate Monster with the exception of Hive Tyrants. Unlike the Haruspex, you can rely on the Dimacharon to land its hits. Move 12 also helps it get where it needs to go, and with a Swarmlord near by, you can pretty easily get a first turn charge with one of these bad boys, and hell, with Onslaught, you have a chance of getting one into combat on the first turn without Swarmlord. It still has 6 attacks base which means 5 hits on average, not too bad at all. Also, each of its weapons has an ability that triggers on the role of a 6, so when healthy with all 6 attacks, you can reasonably expect at least one 6. With its Talons and Maw, on a roll of 6 against Infantry, the attacks counts as S14 and D6 damage (still at AP -2), which means you are wounding on 2s and likely killing most infantry save for elite characters. As a super bonus, the first time that a Dima kills an Infantry model with this weapon, it gains a 5+ invulnerable save for the rest of the game. That’s awesome as it makes it our only big melee bug with an invulnerable save (again, besides Tyrants). If going against some heavier armor, you can use the Sickle Claws which are S10 but on a hit roll of 6, they are resolved at AP -4 and D6 damage (as opposed to AP -2 and dmg D3). That’s pretty slick and it means that most vehicles/heavy targets won’t get any armor save against it. This makes the Dima quite a threat to any target. The Dima is also the Air Jordan of the Tyranid world as Leaper Killer allows it to ignore vertical distance traveled when moving, meaning a Dima can quite literally jump over a ruin or building, so long as it would not move through another model’s base. This is a bit situational, but it is pretty hilarious to hide a Dima behind a large piece of LoS blocking terrain and have it leap over like it ain’t no thang.
On the downside, Dimacherons are not exceedingly cheap (but nowhere near as expensive as Haruspexes), and T6 means that a lot of weapons are wounding on 3s instead of 4s or even 5s. The Dimacheron is equally worried about high volume S4 shots as it is about missile launchers. Also, the reality is that relying on rolling 6s is not super clutch. The Dimacheron is by its design streaky: it will either go God-Mode and do 12+ damage to a hard target, or it will do very little. Keep this in mind. It also has one of the meaner drop-offs in terms of degrading, especially once you only have a few wounds left. While the Dimachaeron is fast, it definitely needs either a pod to get where it needs to be or the Swarmlord to get it into combat as soon as possible to get that sweet 5++.
75/100. There is some great in here, but it needs a lot of support to do what it needs to do.
The original bomb-bug, Meoitic Spores are a bit cheaper than Mucolids with a bit more utility.
The Meoitic Spore is halfway between a Spore Mine and Mucolid with only T2 and 2 Wounds. That’s not so great, but the Meoitic does get to come in a squad of up to 9. They only move 3 inches just like all the other floating bombs, but when a Meoitic explodes, it has the chance to do D3 mortal wounds most of the time and D6 mortal wounds on a 6. That can be pretty nasty. They do not count for victory points, so they aren’t a total liability. The big difference is that they do not come in from Reserve like other units but are deployed after deployment but before the first turn begins, and they can be placed anywhere more than 12 away from an enemy unit. This lets you get them into mid-board position immediately, and if you take enough of them, you can create a nice little wall that will slow down any fast moving army that tries to rush forward and claim position. Seeing as each one is a potential smite, it can definitely be a legitimate threat, and if nothing else, it slows down your opponent’s momentum on the first turn. If you go first, you can even hustle a Swarmlord forward and move them again, having them only needing a 6 inch charge to wreak havoc, which is funny in and of itself.
The downside to Meotic Spores is that they are not entirely inexpensive. They are not much cheaper than Mucolids for a bit less durability, so taking a big unit is quite costly for a unit designed to die. You may find yourself spending 100+ points for no real gain at all, depending on the opponent’s army. This can be frustrating to say the least.
60/100. Mostly not so good, but there is a bit of room for tricks here, but if the trick doesn’t work, you just spent a decent amount of points on nothing.
Stone Crusher Carnifexes:
The elite Carnifexes are true melee beatsticks at a cheap cost but lacking a bit of versatility.
Statwise, the Stone Crushers are identical to the standard Carnifex with T7, 8 Wounds, and 4 attacks base at WS 4+. That’s not too bad as they cost just about over 100 points stock. They are also able to be taken in Monstrous Broods, so if you are looking to build a low drop army, you can take 3 for 1 drop. That’s not bad at all. They also have a better Hammer of Wrath style rule where they can do a mortal wound on a 4+ to a unit they are within 1 inch when they charge, but as bonus, against vehicles and buildings, they do D3 mortal wounds. Several Stone Crushers hitting a Knight have a chance to do decent damage before even swinging. They can also take Bio-Plasma, which isn’t a terrible idea as some extra S7 shooting can help. The big difference is the weapon loadouts for Crushers, namely Wrecker Claws and the Bio-Flail. Wrecker Claws bring Carnifexes back to the armor-popping fun that they were in 7th edition with Sx2, AP-3 and D6 damage, without a -1 to hit. That’s S12 attacks which means light vehicles get popped on 2+ while even Knights are wounded on 3+. As a bonus, against Vehicles and Buildings, Wrecker Claws get to reroll to wound, and if you run a pair, you get to reroll to hit as well. That’s some crazy reliable armor cracking right there, and if you throw in Old One Eye, you can reasonably expect to land 4 of 4 shots with these haymakers. That’s 4d6 damage against a vehicle, not bad at all. You can replace one Wrecker Claw with a Bio-flail if you want more anti-infantry power. As clarified by the FAQ, the Bio-Flail grants one special attack at S6, AP -1 D2. That doesn’t seem great, but that one special attack multiplies into a number of hit rolls equal to the number of models in the target unit within 2 inches of the Crusher. That can be quite a few attacks against a small-based infantry squad. This only takes up one attack, so you can also still use the Thresher Scythe tail upgrade for an additional 3d3 S4 AP-1 attacks. A single Bio-Flail Crusher can do serious damage to a big blob of chaff. If you want vehicle killing power, go with double Wrecker Claws, but if you want some anti-infantry, Bio-Flail Crushers are the trick.
On the downside, Crushers cannot take Adrenal Glands, so they are a bit slower than standard Carnifexes. They also cannot take any ranged weaponry other than Bio-Plasma, so they are very focused. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does limit their tactical applications. If you run against a list that doesn’t use vehicles, a double-claw Crusher is not so hot, and if you running against a monster-mash/vehicle squadron list, a Bio-flail Carnifex has to rely on just one claw. They are cheap enough that you can definitely build around this in your list.
93/100. A great unit that provides some powerful anti-vehicle or anti-horde tek, but they are typically quite one-dimensional, if you care.
One of our only super sized beasties, this gunboat provides a good balance of dakka and fight, but it lacks the survivability of other Lords of War.
The Barbed Hierodule is not a dainty beast (Despite being a bit small model wise compared to other Lords of War) with 22 wounds and T8. That’s some decent beef, and when paired with the standard Malanthrope, a Barbed Hierodule is not that easy to take down at range. They are not invulnerable, but it can be hard for quite a few armies not packing 10+ lascannons to quickly chew through 22 wounds at T8. The Barbed also packs one of the most effective ranged weapons that Tyranids have: The Bio-Cannon: Range 48 (tied for highest in codex), S8, AP -2, Dmg D3. Oh, they get 12 shots. If you roll well, that can be a ton of damage from downtown. While mathematically improbable, a Barbed can theoretically (emphasis on theory) do 36 wounds to a single target in a single shooting phase. At S8 and AP-2 though, be mindful that the Bio-Cannon isn’t going to do a lot against T8 targets with a 3+ save. As it has the Titantic Monster rule, it gets to shoot this without penalty for moving, and it can even shoot when engaged in combat (so long as it is only engaged by Infantry). It can also fall back and shoot/charge without penalty and when it falls back, it can step over enemy Infantry models. If your opponent does charge it with a tarpit, they have to be careful that you don’t just fall back right over the chaff line and into the heart of their army. In melee, a Barbed brings 5 attacks at S10, AP-3, Dmg D6, all WS 3+ rerolling 1s (to hit does not ever degrade). That’s impressive for us Tyranids. Befitting a Titantic model, when healthy the Barbed moves 12, and as a bonus, when it advances, it automatically moves an additional 6 (great when paired with Onslaught) and when it charges, it rolls 3D6 and drops the lowest die. That helps fix the odds pretty nicely. All of this is yours for under 450 points. A single Barbed can be a nice backfield anchor that lays down heat, perhaps babysits an Exocrine, Biovores, or Hive Guard firebase, and acts as a nice counter-charge element if need be.
So what’s not so great about these bad bugs? Well, BS 4+ that degrades hurts, and while 12 shots is a lot, the BS 4+ makes it highly susceptible to bad dice. It also means that any negative modifiers really hurts its overall power, and suddenly needing 5s or 6s to hit means that the Barbed is not doing what it needs to do. A Barbed should eat a Starweaver or two a turn, but with that -1 to hit, you are not landing all that many hits. The other issue here is that the Barbed does not have any invulnerable save or native way to ignore wounds, and while 3+ armor is good, it is not that good. Against any high powered melee beast like Magnus or Bobby G, A Barbed is going to struggle to hold its own. If you go against melta-spam or any spam of AP-4 weapons, you have no real recourse defensively other than the Malanthrope. You only get one Catalyst a turn, and while putting it on the Barbed is not a bad idea, it does mean that you are not putting it on Swarmlord or Genestealers. The Barbed can also get easily bogged down by chaff as it lacks any high output of attacks. While it can fall back over Infantry, a savvy opponent can position chaff line to keep it from moving forward. For the points, you need the Barbed to put in work, but it can really struggle to do that, especially against anything with a negative modifier to hit.
75/100. An acceptable unit that can do good work in the right list, but do not expect a Barbed to go toe-to-toe with any of the elite killers out there, and if you see a -1 modifier out there, the Barbed has a better chance killing it in melee.
The other bad dude of the Tyranids, The Scythed Hierodule is a more melee focused killer that has moves, but it cannot compete with the other big bad melee threats.
Stat-wise, the Scythed is almost identical to its sibling the Barbed but with 7 Attacks base when healthy. It still packs 22 Wounds at T8, so it is not an easy target to kill at range, particularly with Malanthropes nearby. The Agile rules helps out the Scythed quite a bit, making it a fast melee threat. Auto 6 advance means an 18 inch move, and if you tack on Onslaught, you can reasonably get a first turn charge (remember, it rolls 3d6 and takes the highest when charging) with a Scythed without using Swarmlord. Of course, if you do use Swarmlord, you can rocket a Scythed pretty damn far across the table. The Scythed also packs an interesting gun, the Bio-Acid Spray. A Range 8 gun that does 2d6 autohits at S6 AP-2 dmg D3. That is a great answer for units that have a lot of negative to-hit modifiers, and the Scythed can easily pick up a light transport with ease or cut through units that are relying on a Changling debluff. While range 8 isn’t great, the Scythed is at least fast enough to use it somewhat effectively, and the big help is that the Scythed can overwatch with it, making it a dangerous target to charge for a lot of units or even big hitters. The Scythed varies greatly from the Barbed by eschewing the Bio-Cannons for two sets of Massive Scything Talons, giving it 8 attacks of S10 AP-3 DmgD6 that reroll 1s at WS 3+. That’s some decent heat to be sure, and the extra 3 attacks over the Barbed give it a much greater likelihood of slipping past invulnerable saves like Bobby G or Magnus. Just to do some quick napkin math, a Barbed does 9.322 total wounds to a Knight while a Scythed does 12.07 wounds. This is also part of the problem.
If those numbers seem low, it is because they are. The Barbed fights almost as well as the Scythed but its guns can impact the game much earlier. Let’s also look at the math against a target like a standard Greater Daemon with a 4+ invulnerable save. The Barbed will do only 4.49 total wounds on average while a Scythed will do 7.18 total wounds on average to a target with T6-T9 and a 4++. That’s not great and doesn’t even degrade most targets a level. Yes, these are averages, so it is totally possible that a Scythe will do 12+ wounds thanks to some good damage rolls, but you are also equally likely of just doing 2 wounds by rolling snake eyes. Let’s also remember that the Scythed degrades noticebly, dropping to WS 4+ and 5 (6 really) attacks (worse than a Barbed) at the middle grade and eventually down to WS 5+ and 3 (4 really) attacks. The funny thing is that a Barbed is more of a melee threat when damaged than a Scythed, and a Scythed is a far more consistent ranged threat when damaged thanks to an autohitting gun. To make it a bit worse, let’s look at Magnus (who is cheaper than either Hierodule) does to one in melee. Assuming a healthy Magnus, he does just about 14 (13.9) total wounds to any Hierodule, and that’s just from melee. Unfortunately, between psychic powers and melee, I have seen Magnus one round a Hierodule. While 8 attacks is great, the Scythed is not going to do much to a Conscript or Brimstone wall, and while it can jump over them when Falling Back, not when moving, so it is easy to just block it off from getting to where it wants to be. This just illustrates the problems with both Hierodules: they lack durability in melee and cannot go toe-to-toe with other Lord of Wars, which is kind of their job.
70/100. Barely passing thanks to speed and an awesome gun, but you really need to build around making a Scythed work, and even then, you cannot expect it to take down any of the big toys that you’ll see.
One of the few Tyranid models that I do not own after 18+ years of collecting them, the Harridan is our super-gunboat that has a lot of mobility but is too pricey for what you get.
On the good side, the Harridan has a few nice tricks. The biggest is that it is BS 3+ when healthy, and this makes it as accurate as bugs ever get. Combine that BS 3+ with 2 Bio-Cannons , and you have yourself a damn strong gun platform as far the Hive Fleets go. This makes the Harridan far more effective against the increasingly common threats that rock a -1 to hit. To increase its ranged power, the Harridan can also do D3 mortal wounds to itself to increase the Strength of its Bio-Cannon by D6, giving you a range of S9-14. Really, unless you are shooting a T7 target like Magnus or a Flyer, you are really only looking for S9 as this allows the Bio-Cannon to wound most hard targets on a 3+ rather than a 4, and coupled with BS 3+, your Bio-Cannons are suddenly doing far more work. To put it in perspective, a Barbed with only do 3 total wounds on average to a Knight at range but a Harridan will do 5.41 total wounds. That’s a huge increase, but just like the Hierodule, the Bio-Cannon isn’t great at dealing with T8 at range, but on the Harridan, it is at least better. The Harridan excels at taking out transports and light vehicles, and it is our best anti-flyer weapon in the arsenal. The Harridan also Flies, so it can assault the usual suspects like Stormravens, and it fights just as well as a Barbed with 5 attacks at S10, AP-3, Dmg D6 that reroll 1s on WS 3+. This will certainly make a Stormraven cautious, and with its healthy Move of 30, a Harridan is fast enough to catch just about anything. The Harridan can also quasi-vector strike and do D3 mortal wounds to a unit it passes over except for Characters, so that can help put a little bit of heat on a target with strong saves. Lastly, the Harridan can still carry up to 20 Gargoyles, so you can deposit a good sized unit into the heart of the enemy or onto a far-flung objective. The nice part is that while the Harridan is not Synapse, it does not have Instinctive Behavior, so it doesn’t need a baby sitter.
On the bad side, the Harridan is only T7, and while it has 30 wounds, that really isn’t amazing when most anti-heavy weaponry wounds it on a 3+. Just like the Hierodules, it lacks any kind of invulnerable save, so you will definitely want to save your catalyst for this big bird. Its ranged and melee damage can be impressive except when going against other big bads, and that’s what you need your own LoW of to do. Take into account that a Harridan costs just about two Hierodules, and you can see how this is bad news. For the points, it is just better to take two Hierodules over the Harridan. Spending almost half of your army points in a standard 2K game on a Harridan is just not effective unless you are positive you are going against Flyer Spam, which is going to subside a bit with the new rules from Chapter Approved. Let’s not forget that the Harridan has all the systemic issues of the Tyranid Lords of War with a hefty price tag. When compared to other Lords of War at 32 PL, it is just beyond anemic.
40/100. Too expensive for what it brings, so it either needs more pop or it needs to be cheaper. Either way, for funsies only.
Our biggest bug, the supreme bug, the Platonic Ideal of Big Bugs, the Hierophant is just too big for anything but an Apocalypse game.
The Hierophant has a few things going for it that make separate it out from the other mega-bugs. First, it rocks a 2+ armor save, the only Tyranid to have one, and that means quite a bit. It gives the Hierophant a 4+ save against Missile Launchers, and thanks to its nifty 5++, it can actually have a chance to save against melta or AP-4+ weaponry. The Hierophant is essentially a 50 wound terminator. That’s not so bad at all. The Hierophant also brings the heaviest weapons that Tyranids have, and while we never got proper “D” weapons in 7th, the new Dire Bio-Cannons are essentially that: Macro 6 S10 AP-2 2D6 damage, and the Hierophant packs two of these. You can also have the Hierophant suffer D3 mortal wounds to double the strength of its cannons to 20, so it will wound just about anything on 2+s and even wounds a Warlord Titan on 3s. Nice. The AP -2 a bit of le suck, but 2D6 damage is no joke, especially on a gun that does double damage to any Titanic model. Throw in that the Hierophant never loses its Bs 3+, and you have a beasty that on average dice does 30.6 wounds per gun to a Titantic T8 target with a 3+ armor save or 5++ (so, a Knight). Yes, the Hierophant on average dice comfortably kills two Knights a turn at range. Don’t forget its nifty Pistol with is range 8, 2d6 autohitting, S5, AP-2 D1 to help clear out hordes. The Hierophant is also no joke in melee with either 18 attacks at S10 AP- 1 D2 on WS 3+ or 6 attacks at S20 AP -5 Dmg 2D6 at WS 3+ rerolling 1s. That is an absolute ton of damage either way, and the Hierophant is quite capable of taking on hordes as well as big targets. Finally, the Hierophant has one of two options: it can either transport a single squad of up to 20 Gants or Genestealers or a Single Squad of 6 of Hive Guard or Warriors. In addition to that, it can also transport one Broodlord or Tyranid Prime. If that’s not your style, you can instead choose Incendiary Ichor where you do a mortal wound on a 4+ to any unit that did damage in melee. The clear choice is the Incubation Chamber as 20 genestealers plus a Broodlord popping out of a Hierophant is damn scary. The Hierodule also has the usual Titanic rules like being able to fire into and out of combat if engaged with only infantry and can fall back and shoot/charge in the same turn.
On the downside, the Hierophant’s combat and movement degrades noticeably once you start adding on the wounds, and really, it is going to get shot to hell first before anyone tangles with it, so that hurts. The drop off isn’t super sharp, but every attack the Hierophant loses is huge for its overall offensive output. Also, the fact that one of its gun is a Pistol means that you either choose to use the short range infantry clearer (which actually isn’t better than the Dire Bio-Cannons for that) or the big guns, which seems odd for the model. This is likely a typo but if not, it definitely seems strange as it is just better to take 12 shots at S10 and BS 3+ than 2d6 S5 autohits. The Hierophant is also 1800+ points, so really, it is designed to be used in larger narrative battles, not anything else. This is understandable as there is certainly a strong argument as to why Titan level models do not belong in a standard game of 40K, casual or competitive. When compared against say a Warhound Titan, the Hierophant is much more expensive. Yes, the Hierophant has 15 more wounds and a 2+ save, but the Warhound has T9 and when healthy, a 4++ and BS 2+. Especially since Macro wounds are just insanely brutal as just one volley from a Warhound Turbo Laser Destructor does about 19 wounds to a Hierophant and one volley of Dire-Bio Cannons does 46.43 wounds to a Warhound, it quickly becomes a game of who gets to shoot first. The Hierophant does have the edge here as a single Warhound is unlikely to kill it in one go unless armed with 2 Titan Plasma Blastguns, or 2 Dual turbo-laser destructors, and a Hierophant is going to kill a Warhound on average dice. Again, tough to really rate when dealing with these kind of models because with Macro weapons involved, dice get real swingy, real quick.
20/100 for Competitive 40k. While a beast, and you can actually use one to make a one-drop army (or a 2 drop army with a Malanthrope), the Hierophant will really only win against another list built around Lords of War. Any army designed to play the mission is going to kick its butt, and smite-spam is going to be a bad time.
95/100 for Mega-Battles. This big bug is a must have if you like to play 5K+ games with Titans everywhere as it is really the most damage-dealing Lord of Wars Tyranids have, so it is essentially for taking down enemy Titans both at range and in melee.
Ok, that’s every entry in the new world of 8th edition for Tyranids. I am going to sit back, play some games, and wait for our Codex. Once that drops, you can certainly expect me to go back and do a thorough, unit by unit analysis like in 7th. Maybe this time I’ll finish before a new edition. As always, check out TFG Radio and my failures at the recent Hammer of Wrath (I wanted to try out the Hierodules in a competitive setting before writing about them), and of course, make sure to get your LVO tickets. Thank you to those who have read through all of these; it is sincerely appreciated.
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