Tyranid Codex Review – Elites: Haruspex

Hello everyone, Danny here from TFG Radio, and today we talk about one of my favorite kits that doesn’t always get to see the table when I’m playing for keeps, but it is a tricksy little bug if you invest. Speaking of tricks, you should head over to the Tactics Corner to learn a few more.  One of our heaviest hitters, the Haruspex, is tough, versatile, but not always the easiest to get into the action.

Equipment and Biomorphs:

  • Grasping Tongue – Range 12, S6 AP-3 Dmg D3 Assault 1. Can be fired within 1 of an enemy unit and within 1 of an enemy unit engaged with a friendly unit. If a model is slain by this attack, the Haruspex heals 1 wound.
  • Ravenous Maw – S7 AP -1 Dmg D3. Make D3 hit rolls for each attack made with this weapon.
  • Shovelling Claws – S14 AP -3 Dmg D6.

Special Rules:

  • Instinctive Behavior: Unless within 24 inches of a HIVE FLEET synapse creature, -1 to hit for shooting attacks against any target that is not the closest, and -2 to charge a unit unless it is the closest.
  • Acid Blood: For every wound lost in melee, on a 6+, the attacking unit suffers 1 mortal wound.
  • Rapacious Hunger: Every enemy model slain by a Ravenous Maw attack generates a free attack with Shovelling Claws.  Also, at the end of the Fight phase, if a model is slain by a Ravenous Maw attack, the Haruspex heals 1 wound.
  • Frenzied Death Throes – When this model is reduced to 0 wounds, on a 6+, it causes 3 mortal wounds to every unit within 3 of it before it is removed.

The Haruspex has a pretty impressive statline on paper.  It is a T8 baddie with 13 wounds, so it definitely takes some dedicated attention to bring it down.  That is really key here: T8.  There are a lot of S6 and S7 shooting out there, so being wounded on 5s really keeps this bug from being easy meat.  The 3+ save is not bad at all either and makes it quite resilient to small arms fire.  The real sweetness is that the Haruspex is one of our strongest melee fighters with S14 AP -3 Dmg D6 attacks.  That’s some real punch that makes even Knights wary.  The Tyranid codex doesn’t actually have a lot of Dmg D6 attacks, so that alone makes the Haruspex special, and in this world of Knights, Primarchs, and what have you, you need a way to do that kind of big damage in one volley.

Interestingly, the Haruspex is actually one of our better big bads in terms of dealing with hordes.  Thanks to the Maw, the Haruspex has anywhere from 4-12 attacks in each fight, and every time the Maw kills a model, you get a free Claw attack, so it is technically possible (but highly unlikely) that you could generate 24 attacks in a single fight.  Not bad.  Of course, by the math, you can expect roughly 11 attacks per turn (against a Conscript/Brim unit) from the Harurspex (8 Maws, 3 Claws), which is not too shabby.  The Haruspex is actually great at dealing with multiple threats at once if you can line up a charge to engage a larger, squishier unit and a tougher, armored unit so those free claw attacks go right into the hard target and probably do some big, big damage. This is especially true for the usual Astra Militarum/Knight combination where you can position to start eating the little guys while also putting in big hits on the Knight, and if you are feeling lucky, you can actually get more than 4 attacks with the claws against the Knight by chewing on some guardsmen. This also works against Orks if you are dealing with a Boyz horde and characters. If your opponent positions wrong, you can eat some Boyz and get some free swings on those warbosses.

Old School

Of course, the Haruspex also has two means of healing, its gun and its Ravenous Maw attack, and it can theoretically heal 2 wounds in the same turn, which helps get some extra mileage out of the big bug, especially if it tips you back to into Healthy from Medium. Throw in Rapid Regeneration, and you can theoretically heal 5 wounds in a single turn, which makes the Haruspex a good mid to late game piece as it can heal itself back up to stay in the fight and not fall to scattered shooting/melee. Throw in Voracious Appetite for reroll to wounds, and you get a real melee killer here. You can also trigger Death Frenzy and have the Haruspex fight again when it is killed in melee.  There is a more or less unique stratagem for the Haruspex, but the -1 morale modifier isn’t all that special.   It is important to note that the Haruspex is 170 points, making it rather inexpensive for what you are getting.  Chapter Approved dropped the points considerably on this bug, so it is a good deal at the end of the day, at least in terms of raw stats. A Haruspex is far more viable now than it ever was.

Hive Fleet can matter here.  As this bug needs to get into the fray, Kraken is an obvious choice for that sweet first turn advance for positioning, especially if you throw on Onslaught to let the Haruspex charge afterwards.  You can certainly do a Kraken-Swarmlord Haruspex missile for a first turn charge, and thanks to Opportunistic Advance, still have good odds for a first turn Genestealer charge as well. Leviathan isn’t a bad choice as an extra 6+ Feel No Pain on a T8 13 wound model starts to matter, especially one without an invulnerable save, but you need a synapse babysitter.  Jormungandr isn’t bad either for the 2+ save against shooting, but as the Haruspex is a melee monster, you do want to advance, but it does help soften the alpha strike if you go second.  Gorgon helps with the reroll 1s to wound, and Behemoth isn’t bad for the reroll charges (and this bug wants to charge).  As the Haruspex is a monster, Hydra is not really meaningful, and Kronos doesn’t add anything either although the Haruspex is a big monster that wants to run up the board, that is a lot of reach for The Deepest Shadow.

The downside to the Haruspex is a lack of an invulnerable save and a terrible Weapon Skill. While T8 and 13 wounds with a 3+ save is nice, it will wither to dedicated firepower like Lascannons or Missile Launchers.  Having only a 6+ armor save against the usual big punches (at best a 5+ or a 6+ FnP) means that the Haruspex is going to take those D6 damage rolls.  With the ever present Castellan, the Big H is going to die at range to that Volcano Lance.  The other big issue is that it is only WS 4+ when healthy.  That means only half of its attacks will hit, and we all know how easy it is to roll 2, 2, 2, 4.  Seeing as the big bug has no way to survive hits from big targets, if it doesn’t kill what it hits on the first volley, it is going to die, and with WS 4+, that’s just not good enough.  Even if you revive it for one more swing, at WS 5+ and only S10 with the claws, that is likely not going to do any meaningful damage.  Because of this reliance on hitting first, you need to invest in a delivery method like Swarmlord or a Tyrannocyte.  These are all cheaper now, which again makes the Haruspex better, but you still have to worry about WS 4+. Even the Tyrannocyte is not ideal as the Haruspex has no bonus to charge distance, so making a 9 inch charge, even with a reroll, is risky business. Throw in that it is likely using a CP for a reroll to hit or a CP for a reroll to wound, you are looking at a major investment, far more than its cheap price tag would have you believe. That is really the issue here: The Haruspex has a lot of great rules and can kick some major tail for the Hive Mind, but the true price tag is much higher than it first appears, and it very luck dependent.  A Haruspex is a fun model to have and play with, but in terms of pure competitiveness, it will likely fall short of expectations.

68/100. Not great, but perhaps workable in a competitive environment if you are building an outside the box list. I love the model, and I’ve never felt bad having one, and really, that is what matters. Thanks as always for reading, and as the year ends, as always, be prepared for the Hive Mind’s arrival.

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.

21 Responses to “Tyranid Codex Review – Elites: Haruspex”

  1. Avatar
    Hedzer December 23, 2018 2:30 am #

    Very balanced and complete review, thanks!

  2. Avatar
    Brakhal December 23, 2018 5:20 am #

    The garbagepex is easily one of the worst designed (rules-wise) units in the game. Even if he manages to get into combat, their swings are too random and statistically disappointing to bring him for their hitting power. His “special features” don’t work well because of the WS and random number of attacks, so tactical toolbox he offers is not a reason to bring one, neither. It also doesn’t do any wacky stuff, so it fails even to be an option for fun.

    Fighting with a Haruspex is lottery. A random number of non accurate attacks, with random damage, 5 out of 10 times, it will kill 4-6 chaff models, or put 3-4 wounds into a big thing. 4 out of ten, it won’t do anything remarkable. But, on the 10th try, he will crush the enemy engaged. Do you feel lucky enough?

    He can heal himself, but the more injured he is, the less reliable he become to do that, and anyway, the first strategy any player learns is to kill things until they’re death for real. His other special feature is to attack 2 different weight targets in 1 swing, but again, low damage output is low, even when it affects 2 things at the same time.

    T8 W13 is durable, not that much whithout an invulnerable save/feel no pain/reduce damage/resurrection mechanic to back it up, but decent. Still, is just a fatty body waving his tentacled mouth around the board, whaiting for the day he got the right coupon to get rich.

    Is still too expensive, but I don’t think making it cheaper will be healthy (it can get broken cheap, but that’s not good for the game either). What the Haruspex needs is a rules rework, and get a real purpose.

  3. Avatar
    Dakkath December 23, 2018 7:25 am #

    I will never understand why GW keep giving so many of their CC bugs WS4.

    • Avatar
      WestRider December 23, 2018 12:28 pm #

      Applies to the CC Daemon Engines, too. Very underwhelming.

  4. Avatar
    HM December 23, 2018 7:26 am #

    Death frenzy can only be used on character
    please get the rule right before suggesting any combo

  5. Avatar
    WestRider December 23, 2018 12:44 pm #

    So basically the same problems that hold back 90% of the big CC Models in 40K: It can’t reliably make it into combat, and/or once it’s there, its damage output, while potentially spectacular, is highly random.

    Also, why don’t Nids have a generic “fight twice” Stratagem? I can see that maybe being a bit much with Stealers, but even just for Monsters and Characters, that would be very handy.

    Damn shame, because it’s a great Model. WHARGLARBL!

    • Avatar
      Brakhal December 23, 2018 3:01 pm #

      They do hace one, it’s called Adrenaline Surge.

      • Avatar
        WestRider December 23, 2018 11:00 pm #

        Oh, wow, that’s terrible page layout. Apparently my brain just interpreted that whole page as being Hive Fleet-specific Stratagems and missed the couple of generic ones hiding down at the bottom, or at least also assumed those were Hive Fleet locked. Thanks for the heads up!

  6. Avatar
    N.I.B. December 23, 2018 5:25 pm #

    So, you love the model, and that’s what it’s all about? Why then go through all that trouble with the article, trying to find an upside on this turd? This paperweight is a contender for worst unit in the game and in bad need of a rules rewrite. 30/100

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy December 23, 2018 10:57 pm #

      Haruspex isn’t even in the top 10 for worst models in the game. No matter what else you say about him, he’s a T8 monster with a good pile of wounds and the potential for twelve attacks.

      • Avatar
        N.I.B. December 24, 2018 4:32 am #

        The model is great. The unit is contender for worst unit in the game.

        • Avatar
          abusepuppy December 24, 2018 8:00 am #

          I would take a Haruspex over Mutilators, or a Defiler, or any number of other shitty melee units any day of the week. While the Haruspex has a lot of problems, its basic strategy (make a bunch of attacks with its Maw and regain wounds) is actually fairly decent, and it’s actually pretty tough against light/medium-weight weapons. If it was WS3+ and was slightly cheaper, I think you’d see people possibly using it.

          • Avatar
            Brakhal December 24, 2018 9:48 am

            I don’t think the Haruspex would see table, even at WS3+, unless having another big point decrease. But then, no other cc monster would see play.

            There’s a big problem with cc ‘nid monsters: all of them do almost exactly the same, so, even if they were good, there would be no reason to take variety (except for spamming beyond the 0-3 limitation), and players would just take the most cost-eficient creature.

            That’s the main reason this kind of models need a rework on their rules, it’s not just about external balance, but also internal balance and flavour.

      • Avatar
        Victor December 24, 2018 6:44 am #

        What’s the top 10 for worst models in the game in your opinion?

        • Avatar
          Brakhal December 24, 2018 7:31 am #

          Hard to tell exactly what 10, but for sure the list will have a lot of models featuring some of this:
          – Hight cost.
          – Slow movement with no ranged power.
          – WS4+ cc specialist.
          – Non character monster with no invulnerable.
          – Can’t do, at least, something rare, to be fun.
          And that’s exactly the Haruspex, so probably it will have a spot on it.

        • Avatar
          abusepuppy December 24, 2018 7:58 am #

          The easy answer is basically “pick ten random Forge World models and call it a day,” but really that’s cheating; ditto with choosing a bunch of lame named characters. So with those restrictions in mind, I would say something like this, in no particular order:

          -Ogryn (they’re worse than a Catachan Guardsman in almost every measurable way.)
          -Reivers (all the bad parts of Scouts combined with the overpricing of Intercessors)
          -Stalker (it’s like a Predator, but the main gun is worse and you can’t take sponsons)
          -Daemonhosts/Jokaero (both are hilariously overpriced and can’t be taken in squads)
          -Mutilators (self-explanatory; even Reece can’t claim they’re good)
          -Possessed (an absolute joke of a melee unit; like Mutilators, but not as good)
          -Land Raider (self-explanatory)
          -Court of the Archon models (can’t fill a detachment, no character protection, bad statlines, almost no unique features)
          -Obelisk (a Lord of War with nothing better than AP0 attacks, and not even an impressive number of them)
          -Reader’s choice of the fortifications, including the Tau/Eldar ones

          • Avatar
            Brakhal December 24, 2018 10:21 am

            While I agree that every model in that list needs changes to be decent, I don’t think all of them are worst than the Haruspex, and a few are a lot better than him.

            – Ogryns suffer a lot of issues on internal balance, but you get 7 of them for the cost of a Haruspex. They dish a lot more attacks (even when the Haruspex gets a lucky tentacle swing), a lot more reliable. While they don’t have the inmunity to small arms firepower a monster have, they are more durable (points wise) against big weapons (s8+), and not that less durable against medium firepower (easier to wound, worst save, but a lot more wounds the whole unit, and the last models still have a reliable 3+ WS).
            – Reivers: vertical movility and deep strike. A maxed squad costs close to the same as a Haruspex and have an almost decent antichaff power.
            – Stalker: is cheaer, and have something to shoot. Closely related.
            – Daemonhosts/Jokaero: I don’t remember exactly what they do, but they’re just meme models. At least I guess they would have some wacky rules for fun.
            – Mutilators and Possessed: apply almost the same to ogryns, a bit worst. Really close in that worst ten.
            – Land Raider: again, firepower, and decent BS. Of course, it is more expensive, so in the end is not far from the Haruspex.
            – Court of the archon are inexpensive, tiny models. They can have a purpouse camping on safe objectives, ot of LoS, for just 10-15 points each.
            – Obelisk: probably the reason we say the Haruspex is “one of the worst ten”, instead of saying “it could be the worst one”.

            I have to be honest, I never think on neutral fortifications (or any of them, to be fair) as real units, but pieces of terrain people use just as scenery. And FW are in a sort of their own league.

          • Avatar
            abusepuppy December 24, 2018 12:00 pm

            A Haruspex will win a fight against Ogryn every time. It’s not even a close contest; their 5+ armor save pretty much guarantees it. Yes, they are somewhat more survivable against AT weapons, but so what? They can’t do anything with it, and they are MUCh more vulnerable to anti-infantry (especially the S5 kind.) WS3+ doesn’t mean anything if your attacks are garbage and you die before getting there. (Remember, they’re also significantly slower than the Haruspex.)

            Reivers have the same problem as Ogryn- they don’t DO anything. Yeah, they can like assault some infantry and punch it… but so can literally every other Space Marine unit, and they are more expensive than most. You pay for two wounds and deep strike on a unit that doesn’t make significant use of either.

            Daemonhosts and Jokaero are 25-35pt models with small numbers of wounds and no abilities of note. If nothing else on this list, they are _infinitely_ worse than the Haruspex on a variety of levels.

            And again, the Haruspex soundly beats both Mutilators and Possessed in a fight, is faster than them, comes with a gun (even if it’s a bad one), and regenerates wounds.

            Two Stalkers, firing together, won’t kill a Haruspex over the entire course of a game even if they don’t ever shoot at anything else. It’s one of the worst points-per-firepower you can get.

            The Land Raider ceases functioning the moment a single Guardsman gives it a high five. And remember, it’s supposed to be a vehicle that _gets in close to deliver troops to the enemy_.

            Several of the Court models are not inexpensive (e.g. Sslyth.) None of them compare favorably for their cost and durability, and DE have much, much better objective-campers. Also, like, one mortar and suddenly they vanish.

          • Avatar
            Brakhal December 24, 2018 4:33 pm

            The Haruspex only has movement 7″, the same as possessed (who are infantry, a big advantadge for movility when there’s scenery involved), just 1″ better than ogryns (who are also infantry). That’s not significant any way you look at it. A lot faster than mutilators, but at least those come with deep strike.

            Make the math on the CC power of the Haruspex. It’s terrible. Far, far below the previous options.

            Most of your comments on other units are about internal balance. Of course the court of the archon is terrible compared to any other unit in the DE codex, that codex is great, and has very few crappy options!

  7. Avatar
    DaleM December 24, 2018 9:16 am #

    I run a single Haruspex just to harass enemy units. T8 is kinda tough to mess with and a real pain when there are other monsters on the table. If my opponent focuses down the ‘spex my other stuff stays intact if not then he harasses and regenerates. Also, Acid Blood is a fun little bonus that comes into play a lot.

  8. Avatar
    Fawxkitteh April 2, 2019 3:31 pm #

    I’m going to try Kronos.
    Because once it is in melee, it may not have to move unless it is forcing a retreat.
    Reroll on its tongue, to increase its chance to regain 1 of the 2 possible wounds a turn.

    Some might see it as an infantry killer.
    I think that’s the wrong approach.
    I plan to use it to peel infantry from characters.
    With bonus shoveling claw attacks and acid blood going into the characters, and infantry keeping it healthy, it might make the opponent think about separating them. After which the character may be free to shoot at.

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