Tyranid Forgeworld Review – LoW: Barbed Hierodule

Hey everyone, Danny from TFG Radio as always, and today, let’s look at a sight that we have not yet seen: a Lord of War for Tyranids! That’s right, we look at the hero of our hearts if not actually a hero on the table, the Barbed Hierodule. If you want some more deep dives into whatever faction you fancy, you should also check out Frontline’s ever-expanding Tactics Corner.

  • Bio-Cannon – Range 48″ Heavy 6 S8 AP-2 Dmg D3 gun. (It packs 2!)
  • Massive Scything Talons – S10 AP-3 Dmg D6 that rerolls 1s to hit.

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.
  • Agile – You do not roll to advance; you simply move an additional 6 inches. You also roll 3d6 and drop the lowest when charging..
  • Death Throes – On a 5+, when this model dies, all units within 3″ suffer D3 mortal wounds.
  • Titanic Monster – This big bug can Fall Back and still shoot and charge. When it falls back, it may move over enemy INFANTRY models so long as it finishes its move more than 1″ away. It can shoot if an enemy is within 1″ of it so long as all the enemy models are INFANTRY. It may shoot the unit(s) engaging it or any legal target. It does not suffer the hit roll penalties for moving and firing a heavy weapon, and it only gains cover if it is on/in terrain and more than 50% obscured.
Here we have one of our only actual Lord of Wars, and it’s the shooty version.  There are a few factors here that make the Barbed Hierodule quite different from other options.  First, it is tied for our longest range gun with 48″, so it is one of the only models that we have that can sit in the deployment zone and still threaten most of the board with its shooting.  It packs the same amount of shots with the same basic profile as Hive Guard, which is a good mix of decent volume of fire, high S, decent AP, and multiple damage, making it quite handy on a number of targets. The Barbed Hierodule is a Monster, so it does have access to Pathogenic Slime for +1 damage to its guns, which really ups the potential kill.  Throw in that it can fall back and shoot and/or charge, is exceptionally hard (but not impossible) to tri-point, and has a decent wallop in melee, and you have a gun platform that isn’t as easy to turn-off as others in our army like Tyrannofexes or Hive Guard.  It is also mobile with a healthy 12″ move that allows it to redeploy quickly when necessary, and the bonus of just adding 6″ when advancing means that a BH can get up and run when it needs to.  This is all on a T8 22W 3+ chassis, so by our standards, about as durable as it gets (and it is the most durable, stat-line wise, unit that we have access to in a 2000 point game).

Photo by Kociamafia on Reddit

The BH is also not a slouch in melee. It has WS 3+ at all times, and 5 attacks when healthy, which ain’t too shabby for powerful attacks that will ruin a lot of armor’s day. Again, thanks to being a Monster, it gets Voracious Appetite for reroll wounds for only 1 CP. The big key here is that while its attacks degrade, its WS doesn’t, so you can sit back, shoot, and when it is hurt, it can move forward and still put in some work, especially on a target without an invulnerable save in combat (just not too hurt). That roll 3d6 and drop the lowest charge helps it get to combat more consistently, and a first turn charge without Swarmlord is easy if you get Onslaught off. If you get Onslaught off, it also lets you move 18 up the board, unload some heavy shots, and then charge into the front line all in the same turn. Using Swarmlord turns off the shooting option, but more importantly, you can easily combo in some Swarmlord’d Genestealers into the front line too, so now your opponent has to figure out if they can handle taking both threats down in one turn. If you enjoy using our loyal biomass, the Hand-Flamer bomb trick from Genestealer Cults is exceptional at clearing a screen so the BH can get to the juicier targets. That is really the thing with the Barbed Hierodule is that it is fairly competent (note, I said competent, not good) at both shooting and melee, at least more balanced than our other monsters.
Hive Fleet here can add a little something to the beastie. For once, Kraken is not just the obvious choice as the BH doesn’t really get any benefit from it at all other than access to Opportunistic Advance, which it really doesn’t need. If you want your Barbed Hierodule to be a greater threat at range, Kronos adds that reroll 1s to hit if you stand still, and the BH has the range to sit still and put down the pain. That extra 8% to hit really helps.  Jormungandr is also not to be overlooked as it grants the BH cover so long as it doesn’t advance and charge, and T8 is even prettier when it is sitting on a 2+ save.  Leviathan is also not to be overlooked as a 6+ Feel No Pain starts to add up over 22 wounds, essentially giving you an extra 3 and change wounds, and it does add some small defense against mortal wounds.  Behemoth giving the free reroll means that this bug will generally make any charge 8 and under. Even Gorgon has some bonus to make the most out of that S10 in melee. Really, only Hydra and Kraken don’t do anything directly from the bug, but you may end up as Kraken just so you can get that sweet Malanthrope/Venomthrope coverage from another detachment.
So what’s the downside here? We don’t we see this big bugs out to counter things like Castellans and Grav-tanks? Well, there are a few big factors here that hurt our poor Hierodule, but really, they all stem from a central issue: cost. This bug is going to set you back 442 points. That’s a lot. Like a lot, a lot.  That is 48 shy of Swarmlord and 20 Genestealers a lot. That is almost a unit of Hive Guard and an Exocrine. Again, it is a lot of points, and the reality is that you are not getting a great deal of bang for the buck. The Bio-Cannons are great, but what makes Hive Guard so great is that they ignore cover and ignore Line of Sight, so a unit of Hive Guard can sit inside a building, safe and sound, and lay down the death.  Hive Guard are also BS 3+, so they are landing more than the Hierodule. BS 4+ at best is just not that great on a unit that is supposed to shoot effectively. While Pathogenic Slime is great, no lie detected, it is not as good as Single-Minded Annihilation for another whole volley of shots. The Talons are great too, but 5 attacks at best means that the BH is only suited for killing armor, and well, there is a lot of chaff out there. Our biggest bugs really miss 7th edition and stomps because without a way to do a lot of lower quality attacks, it is too easy for the Hierodule to just waste its time squashing a few guardsmen.
T8 and 22 Wounds on a 3+ save is great, but at 440 points, you can get more wounds at the same stat-line for less by taking two Tyrannofexes or Exocrines.  T8 is solid, but without an invulnerable save, the big ranged killers out there like Castellans or Grav-Tanks are still going to really, really hurt this bug (and really, just pop it) the moment they get a shot off on it.  You can make the BH survivable if you go first by either hiding it (it is pretty small for a Super-Heavy, so plenty of terrain, especially those quality kits from FLG, will hide it) or you get Catalyst up on it for the 5+++.  If you can go first and get the -1 to hit, are Jormungandr for the 2+ save, and Catalyst off, then a BH will likely weather the storm, but only if you go first.  But it will still take damage, and this monster does not have a forgiving degrading profile as going to BS 5+ to 6+ is horrid as does dropping from 12 to 8 to 4 movement and losing attacks.  This is all just bad news for a model that costs almost 25% of a standard 2K army.
While I typically dislike comparing codexes to codexes as there are many, many subtle mechanics that change the pricing and value of one thing in one codex from another thing in another codex, it is really hard not to look at Imperial Knights and wonder why the BH is priced where it is. If it is going to be 442, so be it, but it needs to earn those points a bit more.
50/100. Yes, this bug fails solidly. While its range and speed (when healthy) is nice, it doesn’t make up for the fact that it too points inefficient, and it is just better to take 440 points of other things that will do more for you.  I love mine, but if I take it to anything competitive, I know that I am just handicapping myself substantially.  Thanks for reading, and remember, if you didn’t get yourself an LVO 40K Champs ticket or a High-Roller package, you can sure as hell win one by coming down to Hammer of Wrath this August in Pasadena.


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.

3 Responses to “Tyranid Forgeworld Review – LoW: Barbed Hierodule”

  1. CWDub June 23, 2019 6:13 am #

    I saw this article’s title and instantly became sad. I sold my Hierodule after CA 2018 didn’t fix it. While it’d be really cool to get a legit Nid LoW, I don’t see it happening any time soon.

  2. rivercitygaming June 24, 2019 12:20 pm #

    Would it be a fun way to bump up the big bugs to make Death Throes more reliable to go off? Or like in the instance of a LoW, make it more than D3 wounds? Like sure, it’s going to die, but your opponent is going to hate to kill it. Like even the SM banner and Wulfen fight on death better than this massive deadly bug.

  3. LDid December 13, 2019 7:45 am #

    been thinking about this guy alot now since there is the 5++ adaptive physiology for monsters (dermic symbiosis) in the new blood of baal book. Also Pathogenesis artifact from blood of ball gives salamander rerolls. Make him Kronos and now hes all better. cant get around the cost, but maybe he’ll pay for himself more with these buffs?

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