- Bio-Acid Spray – Range 8″ Heavy 2d6 S6 AP-2 Dmg D3 gun that automatically hits the target.
- Massive Scything Talons – S10 AP-3 Dmg D6 that rerolls 1s to hit and +1 attack for having 2.
- 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.
The Scythed Hierodule is the close combat specialist of the Hierodule family, and it definitely has the advantage in melee over its kin. When healthy, a Scythed Hierodule has 8 close combat attacks at WS 3+ that rerolls 1s to hit. That’s pretty tasty, especially considering those attacks are S10 AP-3 and dmg D6. The SH also really gets to make the most out of the speed inherent to the Hierodule, meaning a full 6 every time for advance and 3d6 drop the lowest dice for charging, making this bug one of our mightiest Swarmlord missiles. Even without Swarmlord, if you get Onslaught off, the Hierodule gets to move 18, fire off the bio-acid to hopefully make some room through a chaff line, and then charge 3d6, drop the lowest, all without using the precious Hive Commander or not having to bring the Swarmy either. If you do have Swarmlord and your opponent relies on hiding in the corner rather than chaff to protect a shooty knight/vehicle, with Swarmlord and Onslaught, this big bug is going 36″ down the table plus a 3d6 drop the lowest charge. With 8 attacks when healthy, a Hierodule is going to take a big chunk out of any hard target without a good invulnerable save in combat, so the Hierodule is one of the most consistent Knight killers in our army, doing on average just under 14 wounds in a single round. That’s pretty high for Tyranids, but it is not a one-shot kill either, so you’ll still need to soften the target with Hive Guard or Smites just to be sure. You really don’t want a Knight swinging on a Hierodule.
The Hierodule’s bio-acid spray is also a solid weapon thanks to the fact that it autohits. This means that no matter how hurt a Hierodule is, it can still be somewhat combat effective as long as it gets to shoot. In the era of Eldar flyers that are -2 or -3 to hit, an auto-hitting weapon is worth far more than it may appear. S6 isn’t ideal as that is wounding most flyers on 4s or 5s, and 2d6 can be a fickle beast, but it still offers a way to shoot the planes down, especially with Pathogenic Slime for +1 damage. An auto-hitting weapon is also an ideal defensive armament as now anything trying to charge into the SH from within 8 is going to take 2d6 hits to the face, and glass-cannon characters or units that can actually threaten the SH are not going to be happy about that. This acid-spray makes the SH often a more reliable gun platform than its kin, which is a bit sad. That said, you really don’t want too many things charging the Hierodule, but it is nice knowing that you have some way to do damage before combat. Thanks to the speed of the Hierodule, it pairs well with either the standard Genestealer or Hormagaunt rush as the safest place for a Hierodule in most games is stuck in combat, and if you can tripoint an enemy with an infantry unit of your own, you’re safe for a turn of shooting, and then either eat the chaff unit, or if it sticks around, simply fall back over the chaff line and line up a shot on the quality targets available. While it always fun to Nidzilla, a Hierodule is best supported by infantry to either lock enemies or place or Devourer-Gants to shoot holes through chaff lines, so the Hierodule can make the most out of its 8 attacks.
Hive Fleet here again depends on a few factors. Just like the Barbed variety, a Scythed doesn’t need to be Kraken, but if you are already dedicating to Kraken, then it might have to be to share the Malanthrope/Venomthrope aura or be a Swarmlord target. If you going a different route, Jormungandr is not a bad idea for the 2+ save on the first turn or any turn it does not advance, or Leviathan for a 6+++ Feel No Pain to get a bit more mileage out of that 22 wounds. With the sheer speed of the SH, Kronos isn’t terrible if you are trying to get the Darkest Shadow aura out there to catch some pesky backline psykers, and Gorgon gets that nice reroll to 1s for wounds to help make that S10 even more reliable. Behemoth is both fluffy and a free re-roll charge is not a bad thing either. I tend to lean towards Jormungandr or Leviathan for the extra defense here, but for the SH, Leviathan is likely a bit better as this bug wants to advance and make use of its speed to get into combat or get a tasty plane into range of the bio-spray, so Leviathan is just a bit more consistent protection if you can keep Synapse near the bug.
So again, why aren’t these big bugs everywhere? Again, the problem here is efficiency. While the SH is cheaper than its kin, it is still a significant investment. 410 points is not cheap, so the Hierodule needs to put in work in a game or it is just a stone weighing you down. While 8 attacks are good, they are only high-powered attacks, meaning you have to actually make sure that you get to land them on something that matters. Killing 8 chaff is not an ideal use of 410 points. The SH would really benefit from a way to make more, weaker attacks, so it could be a bit more flexible game to game. There is also the luck factor here where a Hierodule is swingy as hell. Against any unit with an invulnerable save in combat, if they tank 2 or 3 of your attacks, you may suddenly find yourself without enough damage to put the target down. Somewhat paradoxically, where the Hierodule wants to be, melee, is the most dangerous place for it as it has no invulnerable save and only a 3+ armor, so any other high-powered melee unit is going to take big chunks of this bug down easy enough. In shooting, a Hierodule can stack defensive buffs or lock itself in combat with an assist from our little bugs, but in melee, it stands alone, and it has little way to stop high-powered melee from just eating it. That said, even in shooting, the Hierodule isn’t an immovable object. At best, you are getting -1 to hit, 2+ save, 5+ Feel No Pain, if you go first to get Catalyst up, which is about as resilient as you are going to get in Tyranids, but that’s if you go first. It is not wise to rely on such.
Also, the SH really does degrade horrifically. It is hit in all the 3 areas that it needs to be an effective combat machine, namely movement, WS, and attacks. A near-death SH is really more of a gun platform than a melee threat as 3 attacks at WS5+ with only movement 4 is downright awful. Once a SH gets to the second tier, it is better to move and shoot with it rather than try to get it into melee with anything that could possibly threaten it. Still, while the SH can do real work if it gets to swing against armor, for 410 points, you can likely just get more. It is not that the Hierodule can’t do good work, but it is so focused on one task and with such a high point cost that it cannot adapt well to a battlefield. If it matches up against a horde, it is really going to rely on that acid-spray to do work more than anything else.
65/100. Failing, but not by much. If it were a bit cheaper or had another mode of attack, the Scythed Hierodule would be a solid option for a Nid list looking to add some anti-armor, but right now, it is a bit too narrow in its uses and a bit too expensive for what it can do. Thanks as always for reading, and of course, if you need an LVO ticket or maybe a high-roller package, you should come win The Hammer of Wrath GT in Pasadena, California.
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