Tyranid Codex Review – Fast Attack: Gargoyles

Hello everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, let’s look at one of our little bugs that move fast and die fast, the Gargoyle! Don’t forget to read all about why speed kills over at the Tactics Corner as well.  While the winged termagant may not have the options of our other little gribblies, they sure are fast, and never underestimate the FLY keyword.

Equipment and Biomorphs:

  • Fleshborer – Range 12 Assault 1 S4 AP 0 D1 gun
  • Blinding Venom – S3 AP 0 D1 melee attack that if it causes an unsaved wound, the target must subtract 1 from all hits for the turn.

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.
  • Hail of Living Ammunition: If 20 or more models in the unit, reroll 1s to wound in the shooting phase.
  • Swooping Assault: Can come in from reserves more than 9 away from enemy models.

Ah, the winged Termagant that gains speed and the fly keyword  but loses customization and points efficiency.  The Gargoyle’s stat line is quite mono-build, and really, you are paying 6 points for a T3 model with a 6+ save with a Fleshborer and 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 although many times, it might just be best to let the priority unit swing first rather than worry about the swing back.   You cannot give them Toxin Sacs and Adrenal Glands, so they really are a “get what you get” type of unit.  This is too bad as being able to give them a +1 to charge would certainly help them out.  Gargoyles do get the bonus reroll 1s to wound in shooting if they are over 20 models, which is a bit of extra help with fleshborers. With Scorch Bugs, getting a +1 to wound helps hurt a lot of targets, especially T7 and below as wounding  about 58% of the time can force a lot of saves, especially if the target is already injured.  That said, it can be hard to get all 20+ within 12 inches to maximize the shooting damage.

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. The big thing about a chaff unit with Fly is that they can never be triangle-locked into place as they can simply hop over whoever is trying to keep them from Falling Back, so they do not offer a safe place for your opponent’s melee units to hide during your turn.    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. That said, Gargoyles make a fun Swarmlord target as having them scurry across the board and even jump a chaff line means that you are suddenly deep in enemy territory and able to tie up some guns.  You can no longer do the Gargoyle drop and Swarmlord trick, but if they start on the board, they can cover a lot of ground. There is also something to be said about being able to land 30 models somewhere on the board Turn 3 without spending any additional points to do so, so a large blob of Gargoyles dropping down into a table corner can be hard for armies to shift in the mid-to-late game.

Hive Fleet again adds a lot of flavor here.  Kraken is certainly worth considering as not only does it increase their speed, it also allows Gargoyle to fall back and both shoot and charge afterwards thanks to Kraken and Fly.   You can also Opportunistic Advance them for up to 30 inches of movement, plenty to dominate the board or with Onslaught, set up a big charge. Being able to get even just a handful to jump over a front line and tie up a vehicle or other larger shooting threat is pretty money.   If you want Gargoyles to fight, Hydra is a good option as getting them a reroll in CC helps out their lackluster WS 4+ and Gorgon helps a bit as well with the reroll 1s to wound in melee.   With their large footprint, Kronos isn’t a bad idea to get any pesky psykers into The Deepest Shadow Range.  If you can keep them in close range Synapse, Leviathan works for the 6+ Feel No Pain and the chance to use War on All Fronts, which adds anywhere from 8% to 13% more hits and 2.5% to 13% more wounds against a target in melee for 1 CP.  As Gargoyles are really at best a chaff unit, Leviathan is something to look into as 30 models with -1 to hit at range and a 6+ FnP is not entirely easy to shift, especially as a chaff line that is there to block off your shooting elements from assault like Tyrannofexes or Exocrines. Jormungandr doesn’t work as the Gargoyles don’t get any benefit at all. While Chapter Approved 2018 did not particularly help the Gargoyles directly, our big gun bugs did get a lot of drops, so doing a more dedicated gunline is much more viable than before, which means by extension, having a good chaff unit that can’t be tri-pointed is super helpful.

Of course, 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. Hormagaunts are a bit cheaper and really, almost as fast and arguably more tactically flexible thanks to a 6 inch consolidate. 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 unless you are playing a dedicated gunline army where you always want to be shooting rather than fighting.  Blinding Venom seems cool, but it really isn’t all that helpful at the end of the day and would be better as a ranged weapon. If the Gargoyles fight first to get that -1 to hit off, a savvy player will just spend the CP to interrupt and get some damage done on the unit that you are trying to protect as -1 is only 16% damage mitigation, and well, I’d rather the unit just hit at full power than risk being interrupted.    What Gargoyles do bring is base speed and the ability to walk away from combat regardless of the situation, so they become a unit that you have to build around to really get the benefit of. If you are planning on running a gunline, Leviathan Gargoyles can do some work for you.

65/100. 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.

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.

9 Responses to “Tyranid Codex Review – Fast Attack: Gargoyles”

  1. Avatar
    Kitani January 13, 2019 7:42 am #

    Nicely written. Good point about being safe from tri-pointing.
    Still, they are a bit disappointing. They are expensive in comparison to troop gaunts, with hormagaunts being already expensive enough, without the perks of actually being troops.
    If hormagaunts were 4 and gargoyles 5, that would have made for better balance.

    • Reecius
      Reecius January 13, 2019 10:13 am #

      If it weren’t for that fact that troops give you more CP, I’d use these guys more frequently. Early 8th I used them all the time and found them to be very useful but with the need for CP increasing, I switched to Hormagants and Termagants.

      That said, if you want to use Gargoyles they are quite good.

      • Avatar
        Dakkath January 13, 2019 6:48 pm #

        Unfortuantely the state of the game has swung from “Indexes are all there is, battalions and brigades don’t give that many cp and you don’t need many anyway, troops are optional but nice to have” all the way to “(almost) everyone has their codex, stratagems are out the wazoo, batallions and brigades give more cp and you will probably need all of them, you need a good reason to bring units that aren’t hq or troops”.

  2. Avatar
    WestRider January 13, 2019 7:51 pm #

    I feel like the changes to Cover in 8th really hurt their utility as well. One of their big advantages in 3rd thru 7th was how good they were at Obscuring the larger Nids, but that no longer means anything.

    Apparently that will be useful in Cityfight, tho, so I’m curious to see if they end up getting used more there.

  3. Avatar
    Brakhal January 14, 2019 4:06 am #

    Units with fly can’t use opportunistic advance.

    As everyone said, Gargoyles are decent, but they can’t compete with troop-gaunts. I think they need something better than the actual blinding venom (maybe an occasional mortal wound, to ensure the venom takes effect), to find a niche.

  4. Avatar
    HM January 18, 2019 7:40 am #

    This author got lot of rules wrong
    this is not the first time

    • Reecius
      Reecius January 18, 2019 8:02 am #

      What rules are wrong?

      • Avatar
        HM January 19, 2019 8:33 am #

        like saying a fly unit (gargoyle) can use opportunistic advance, saying a non character monster (haruspex) can use death frenzy, saying a fly unit (venonthrope) gains cover save in Hive fleet Jormungandr

        • Avatar
          HM January 20, 2019 7:09 am #

          Again, he suggested using opportunistic advance on a flying unit (spores), which the rule says it cannot be used on flying units.

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