Tyranids Codex Review – Heavy Support: Screamer-Killers

Hey everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, we talk about the original, the classic, the initiator not the imitator:  The Screamer-Killer Carnifex! The Screamer-Killer is your standard assault Carnifex that also packs a surprising if not unreliable ranged punch and some leadership shenanigans. If you would like to learn more, click on over to the Tactics Corner.

Equipment and Biomorphs:

  • Monstrous Scything Talons – S6 AP -3 Dmg 3 melee weapons that reroll 1s to hit. With two pairs, +1 attack.
  • Bio-plasmic Scream – Range 18″ Assault D6 S7 AP -4 D1 gun.
  • Toxin Sacs – On a melee wound roll of 6+, deal 1 additional damage.
  • Adrenal Glands – +1 to advance/charge.

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.
  • Living Battering Ram: After charging, on a 4+, one enemy unit within 1 takes a mortal wound. In addition, +1 to hit in the Fight Phase.
  • Monstrous Brood: Can take a unit of up to 3, and when they deploy, they drop as one but act as separate units from there on.
  • Spore Cysts: -1 to hit for ranged attacks that does not stack with Malathropes/Venomthropes.
  • Terrifying: +1 to enemy morale tests for units within 8″ of a Screamer-Killer.

So what you get with this model is a melee beatstick that also has something to do in the shooting phase.  A Screamer-Killer is just a stock Carnifex with double scything talons. What they lose on customization, they gain in some unique abilities.  Bio-plasmic scream is an up-gunned version of bio-plasma with longer range, potentially more shots, and -4 AP, which is sweet.  This really allows the Screamer-Killer to engage enemies at range and pick their shots, pumping some high-quality hits into one unit and charging another. The -4 AP is also critical as it means that 3+ save models do not get a save at all, and even 2+ only get 6s.  This is great for putting wounds on targets that rely on a strong armor save, and with S7, you are wounding light vehicles on a 3+ and heavier ones on a 4+.  The +1 to morale is a nice aura, particularly at an 8 inch range, and it can tip the balance for units taking tests. It also combos well with Shadows in the Warp on units that are psykers as well like Grey Knights.  With that new Genestealer Cult hotness and more leadership shenanigans, you can certainly use Screamer-Killers to add on more penalties.   Really, the biggest advantage of the Screamer-Killer over a bare-bones Carnifex is that Bio-plasmic scream.  The increased range really adds a lot of versatility for this bug, allowing it to threaten multiple units before it gets down and dirty with its 5 attacks.   You really should factor in adrenal glands in the cost as you’ll always want the +1 to advance and charge.  This also probably includes Spore Cysts unless you are already paying points for a Venomthrope squad.  On the upside, the Screamer-Killer is a different data-sheet than a standard Carnifex, so you can take 3-9 Dakka Fexs and still bring 3-9 Screamer-Killers.   Don’t forget that Screamer-Killers still have the Carnifex keyword, so Old One Eye helps turn them up to 11 with a 2+ rerollable to hit when they charge.

In terms of Hive Fleet, the melee centered ones are your best bet. Kraken is always a go-to choice for its increase to speed and being able to fall back and charge. This can also really help get the SK into a good position to throw out that morale penalty. Gorgon isn’t a waste as the reroll 1s to wound certainly helps increase the usefulness of S6.  Jormungandr isn’t a bad idea for the 2+ save against shooting if you don’t advance, so you could sit a Screamer-Killer in the midfield and lay down shots while daring enemies to come fight you in melee. This pairs well with OOE as you can lay down some fire and anyone charging in has to deal with essentially WS 3+ S6 AP-3 Dmg 3 attacks back.  If you have synapse that can keep pace, Leviathan isn’t bad for that extra 6+ Feel No Pain.  The Screamer-Killer wants to move, so Kronos isn’t a good choice for the shooting benefit but isn’t horrible for spreading out the range of the Deepest Shadow. Hydra does not work at all sad to say.

The downside to the Screamer-Killer is inherent to all Carnifexes: speed and average WS/BS.  With WS 4+ and scything talons, that’s only 58% accuracy on 5 attacks, not all that great. Sure, if you throw in OOE for a much better swing, that’s a lot more kill, but this requires another unit, and when charging, they are much more accurate, but that’s if you charge. That’s a few too many “ifs” for my taste. With BS 4+, the bio-plasma isn’t doing much if you advance or if you just roll a 3 or less for shots. Considering the gun is only D1, it is there to do a bit of damage, not put something down, and again, D6 shots at WS 4+ is not a lot of value.   All in all, you are really relying on good dice rolls to get the most out of this bug, and with so few dice to roll, you are very susceptible to bad swings of luck.  The Screamer-Killer is really far more deadly in melee, so the gun is a secondary concern.  The Screamer-Killer is also not too fast, and really, it is just not as points efficient for what it wants to do.  It’s biggest threat is in melee between Living Battering Ram and 5 attacks, but with adrenal glands and spore cysts, it costs 120 points while a melee fex only costs 97 with the same upgrades but no bio-plasma.  Is the gun really worth 23 points? This adds up if you start taking multiples as well.  For pure points efficiency, I’d rather spend 13 less points and take a standard Carnifex with Tusks, Spore Cysts, and Adrenal Glands for 6 attacks on the charge.  The Screamer-Killer is awesome, and if you are really dedicated to having a lot of fexes, it gives you the chance for some melee pop, but it is just not as efficient as the standard Carnifex.

65/100. Failing, but not by much. The biggest downside to the Screamer-Killer is that it pays a big premium for its weapon when it actually does not add much threat at the end of the day. Of course, the fact that it is an entirely different data-sheet means that you can run 10+ Carnifexes without much worry, and that can be fun as hell and surprisingly effective, match-up dependent.   Thanks as always for reading, and we have only one more Carnifex to look over before we get into some of the other big kits. Also, there’s this thing that TFG Radio is trying out: If you are local to SoCal, think about it.

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.

6 Responses to “Tyranids Codex Review – Heavy Support: Screamer-Killers”

  1. Avatar
    robert niederkorn February 24, 2019 9:19 am #

    Your right the dont hit or run fast but they will lock down any part of a board if you not paying attantion. Other thank not bad article.

  2. Avatar
    WestRider February 24, 2019 3:23 pm #

    Yeah, not inherently bad, just paying way too much for the Bio-Plasmic Scream over a regular Fex. If they got a bit of a Points drop in a CA, they could definitely be as usable as regular Fexen. Another victim of GW constantly over-charging for versatility.

    • Avatar
      CWDub February 25, 2019 7:44 am #

      Not an inherently bad unit like you said but it’s also completely and utterly invalidated by the Knight Castellan.


      *foom foom melt*

      *picks up three carnifexes/turn*


      • Avatar
        WestRider February 25, 2019 8:15 am #

        That kind of goes without saying for anything that isn’t either horde-cheap, or super durable, with a good enough Invul. That thing invalidates huge swathes of the game.

  3. Avatar
    N.I.B. February 25, 2019 2:03 pm #

    Yeah Castellan invalidates 50% of 40K, it needs to go away.

    As for Screamer-Killers, isn’t “too expensive for what it brings to the table” a pretty good definition of a bad unit?

    • Avatar
      WestRider February 25, 2019 9:05 pm #

      In one sense, yeah, but in another, those are easy Units to fix, because you just adjust the Points.

      Truly bad Units are the ones with internal contradictions or just outright terrible Rules, that are bad at any price:
      – Fast Attack Vehicles with Heavy Weapons and no way to avoid the penalty.
      – Land Raiders, that are supposed to barge into the middle of enemy lines as mobile bunkers, but get their firepower completely invalidated when they do.
      – Supposedly elite Assault Units with only d3 Attacks each.
      – Dedicated Anti-Aircraft Units that are unlikely to take out any but the lightest Flyers even when allowed to shoot them unimpeded for the whole game.
      – Dedicated Anti-Tank Vehicles relying on a single BS4+ shot per Turn.

      Stuff like that is impossible to fix just by tweaking the Points. Those Units pretty much need a ground-up rewrite.

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