Hey everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, there is big excitement in my twisted, alien heart: we have new rules for Tyranids in the updated Forgeworld Compendium. This is a long one, so buckle up as we go through each and every update. Of course, a lot of armies got new toys, so be sure to keep up over at Frontline’s Tactics Corner.
First off, RIP to Shrikes. They are the only Forgeworld entry that we lost, and ya know, that’s unfortunate. I think one thing that Tyranids could use is a medium or heavy infantry unit to be a hammer in the missions, and Shrikes could have been that with some changes, but oh well, such is life. Second, in the 30,000 foot view, the Forgeworld update gives a lot more zoom to Nidzilla. Let’s go!
The Malanthrope gets a lot of strong buffs here, and while it pays for them to an extent, for a Nidzilla style list, one Malanthrope yet again becomes somewhat of an auto-include. First, the bad, yes, the Malanthrope did increase in points, making it one of our more expensive HQs, but that’s not always a bad thing. For 15 more points, you get a lot more use out of the Malanthrope thanks to doubling the range of its aura to 6”, giving a single Malanthrope a lot more room to maneuver as you don’t have to just hug every monster possible. It also helps if running a horde as with the new coherency rules, it can be hard to keep multiple squads all within 3″ of the Malanthrope, but not as much of a problem now. Honestly, that’s already worth the 15 points right there.
But wait, there’s more. The Malanthrope is actually a bit more threatening now with 4 S5 AP-1 D2 attacks that reroll to wound, much better than before as the Malanthrope can actually maybe kill a model or two. Enhanced Toxic Miasma also got a significant enhancement as now it does d3 mortal wounds rather than just 1. Lastly, Prey Adaption can now be unlocked by having an enemy unit die within 3” of the Malanthrope rather than 1″, meaning a Malanthrope doesn’t actually have to get into the fight to activate the aura.
The rest of its stats stay the same, so it is still a T5 9W Monster with FLY, making it hard to kill at range as long as it is hiding, and really, even though it is pricey, it becomes a good candidate for While We Stand, We Fight as unless you are getting tabled, it is pretty easy to hide the Malanthrope for 5 turns, denying your opponent victory points. That said, that synergy is a bit limited if going Nidzilla since you will be taking other models that cost more than 150. If doing an infantry horde, the Malanthrope becomes a cool meta choice as it is a good candidate for WWSWF but also, not being a psyker, it doesn’t bleed other secondaries to your opponent like a lot of our HQs do.
All in all, this is a solid upgrade, and while it is not early 8th levels of must-take due to being appropriately costed, a Malanthrope should always be a first instinct for a mandatory HQ option.
Well, Fs in chat to my 18 Meiotic Spores. I loved these little bombs since 8th edition thanks to their deployment shenanigans and their damage output, particularly when combined with Swarmlord and Kraken. That trick is still mostly there, but really, in early 9th, I found that the best use of the Meiotic Spores was to deploy them in the center and help dictate the movement game in the first turn. That doesn’t happen anymore.
Meiotic Spores lost Outriders of the Swarm, so they now can deploy in Reserve for free with the usual limitations. This is not so good as unless they make a charge out of reserve, they are not really going to surprise anyone. Losing the advanced deploy hurts, and it really removes a critical tool from the Bug toolkit. We now have no means to advance deploy, and that shuts down a fun avenue of attack that I liked to exploit.
On the good side, they actually do more damage on average now, causing 3 mortal wounds on a 4+ and d3 on a 2-3. You can’t spike like crazy anymore, but then consistent results are generally the needed component to success. I’d much rather be able to more accurately predict how many wounds a squad will do rather than have a wide variance that is much more a guess than a tactical decision.
They stayed the same in points, so that’s something, and you can still deploy them on the table if you wish, so if you really want to try and be aggressive, with their 2 wounds, they are still good targets for Metabolic Overdrive, and in Kraken, their movement 3” is much less painful when you are much more likely to get a 4+ on the advance roll. If you really love the Meiotic Spore+Swarmlord+Kraken blitz, which certainly catches people off guard, then they are still usable, but that is a very specific trick to be sure.
Overall, they are less useful than before, and that’s a shame.
So, Sky-Slasher Swarms were already not the most common sight on the battlefield, and after this update, they will likely stay that way, but they didn’t get any worse, so maybe there are some plays. Really, the only change to them was that they can natively come in from reserve on their own, which is nice as really, besides the difference in movement, 3Ss are just more expensive Ripper Swarms, and the true utility of the Ripper is that they can come in from reserve and are Obsec, so in that regard, 3Ss are just not as good.
But, in 9th, when bodies matter, I can see an argument for them now. With movement 12 and our usual bevy of movement tricks, you can send a squad of 9 pretty far afield, and at 5 points per T3 wound, they are about as survivable as a gaunt swarm but much faster. They don’t have Obsec, which is really crucial for winning the objective game, but with only 9 models, they are easier to hide than a swarm of Gants, and with their speed on a shortened board, they can hop between objectives much faster than Gants. 3Ss are really an interesting choice here with some plays, but they have a really steep learning curve, so you are either going to use them exceptionally well or they will just flounder.
Overall, I don’t think they’ll get much play unless you are pulling some Galaxy-brain style shenanigans.
There is a lot of ballyhoo about the Dimachaeron, and the changes are generally in the positive, but I don’t quite see it as a total win here, but it is certainly mostly a win. I am still very glad that I own 3.
I don’t think I can remember a single rule being changed so completely and so much for the better than the Leaper-Killer rule. Now, it gives us the 5++, but also, it gives us a version of early 8th edition FLY in terms of movement, allowing a Dima to just skip all over enemy models and terrain. This gives the Dima so much mobility, and while other monsters are stymied by terrain, Dima’s just don’t care, and Dima’s also don’t care about screening models. You can just walk over them or charge over them to get to sweeter meat or go tag the objective that they were trying to screen you out of. That’s real good.
The Dima coming in with a 5++ is awesome, and any Big Bug with an invulnerable save is already ahead of the curve. This really adds to its survivability, and it saves you having to use one of your precious Adaptive Physiology on it. The change to its Digestion Spine rule is a bit odd, but being able to get the Dima to a 5+++ Feel No Pain style save is delicious, making the Dima one of our most survivable creatures without having to use any outside resources on it. A 5++ and a 5+++ is generally about a 50% damage reduction all told, and with new and improved 18 wounds, that’s pretty awesome.
Getting Digestion Spine to trigger is a bit harder now though as it is not just a straight “kill something with this weapon” but rather, after you attack, you select a model within Engagement Range (1” horizontal, 5” vertical), that model’s player must roll a D6 and add its Strength, and if it doesn’t beats a 7, that model’s unit takes d6 mortal wounds, and finally, if those mortal wounds kill a model, then you get the 5+++ FnP. So math wise, a Space Marine is going to pass on a 4+, so that’s not great odds, but then, you don’t have to actually kill anything with your attacks either, so theoretically, you could swing in on a character, not kill it, the character rolls a 1 (and is not S7 base), and then takes d6 mortal wounds and maybe dies, which is hilarious. It is a tad more complex, but hey, we already got a 5++, so getting the FnP is just super icing on the cake.
You also get a nice boost to 18 Wounds, S7 and T7, making the Dima more survivable. This is much more in line with the actual model itself as it never made sense that the big bug (literally, taller than almost any other model in our entire line) was only T6 and 14 wounds. There is a downside here though: the Dima cannot benefit from Obscuring Terrain, so there is no way to hide now. One of my favorite tricks was to park a Dima behind Obscuring Terrain and just skip over next turn to fight, but now, my opponent has the chance to open up on it. Give and take.
Offensively, the Dima is much more consistent in output. It loses a lot of variance, not able to get the super big swings of power, but d3+3 damage is very nice indeed, and AP-3 is always respectable. This is generally very predictable damage, and very high damage. S8 attacks are not awesome against targets like Knights, but remember, the Dima is a monster, so for 1 CP, you can reroll wounds, taking some of that sting out. The Dima loses WS 2+ natively, but it gains a native reroll to its primary melee attack, and a rerollable WS 3+ is better than flat 2+, and if you take the Dima in a custom Hive Fleet with Prey Sight, you get a 2+ rerollable on the charge, and that is straight cashey money.
The Dima does go up a bit in points to a hefty 230, but that’s a lot of bug for 230, and again, it got on paper more survivable for not much of an increase.
My only worry is the lack of benefiting from Obscuring Terrain. This still a primarily shooting game, and T7 with a 5++ and 18 wounds sounds tough as hell, but with some of the heat that other armies put out, it really might not be. If you stack on the usual Tyranid buffs, a Dima will not be a gimme-kill, but it is also not going to shrug off dedicated firepower, especially since its degrading profile hits two of its most important stats: Movement and WS. I’ll have much more thoughts later when I do an updated Entry profile on the Dimachaeron on its own.
Overall, they were still good before, but they are definitely better now, but don’t underestimate how important Obscuring Terrain can be.
Stone Crusher Carnifexes
This is another weird hit to a unit that didn’t get a ton of love anyway. The first big change is that they can no longer be taken as a Brood, which just doesn’t make sense as that’s how Carnifexes roll. They are designed to work as a spam unit, overwhelming your opponent with 6+ of them as individually, they aren’t actually that threatening. Now being limited to just 3 in total seems odd.
They still can’t take any biomorphs, which hurts as they really needed Adrenal Glands and Tusks, which would really up them. They did get a boost to flat strength, bringing them up to S7, which also helps out the Bio-Flail which is now S8, so that’s something. The Bio-Flail is just much easier to use and just gives the SC 8 attacks at S8 AP-1 D2, which isn’t bad at killing Primaris bodies, but it isn’t great since AP-1 is not super clutch.
Their bespoke charging rule is just better now, doing d3 mortals against any target and d6 against a Vehicle or Monster (much more useful than Building). Their emphasis away from Buildings is also good for the Wrecker Claws which now just reroll hits and are D5 against Vehicles/Monsters, making them hit pretty hard against the right targets. They also get +1 to hit on the charge like other Carnifexes, so that’s nice. It certainly makes Double-Wreckers much more reliable as a rerollable WS 3+ is good.
Points wise, Bio-Flails stay the same and Wrecker Claws are 5 points more than before, so they are actually relatively cheap, but the weird thing is that model wise, the kit doesn’t come with 2 bio-flails, and you have to choose either double flails or double claws, which again, seems really odd to me. 8 S8 attacks aren’t bad, but again, SC still need a good way to get there, and without Monstrous Brood, you can’t stack 4 or 5 with the hope that 2 or 3 get there.
Overall, Stone-Crushers are probably not going to see much play, which is too bad. One does make an excellent Old One Eye conversion though, just saying.
Oh man, I was not expecting this change at all. Both Hierodules have lost the Titanic rule and are no longer Lords of War but Heavy Support. This opens up so much in so many ways.
Let’s start with what is lost: 4 wounds, 2 Strength, and 3” of movement. That’s not really a bad trim to go from LoW to Heavy Support. But wait, what else did they lose? 185 points are what they lost. That’s pretty awesome. Granted, 275 is still our most expensive non LoW beast, but that is a lot more in line with what you get. The Bio-Cannon “loses” d3 damage to a flat D2, which is fine with me as again, consistent results are better than high variance for long term success. Especially since the cannon stays at AP-2, your opponent is going to save, and rolling a bunch of 1s and 2s for damage is no good when you are only sneaking through a few rolls. The Barbed did lose the Agile rule, which is fine overall but it was helpful at times to reliably go 18” in a single phase.
What did the Barbed gain? Well, easy to miss but super clutch, it gained a 2+ armor save, the only 2+ armor save in the Tyranid line outside of our biggest baddie, the Hierophant. This is critical as it means that unless you are playing against an army that packs a ton of AP-4, you don’t need to give Dermic Symbosis to the Hierodule because AP-3 is going to save on a 5+ either way. It also means that you can try and get some sweet cover for another bonus, making that 2+ even more annoying to kill at range. And yes, Hierodules aren’t that big, so it is feasible to get them cover (or say, put them in Jormungandr), and boom, you have a really resilient ranged threat that pumps out decent fire power (now at BS 3+ standard, so moooneeeeeeeyy). If anyone should be happy, Jormungandr gun lines should rejoice as they are cheap enough to take 2 and be the rock on which you build your church. Kronos can also get mileage thanks to rerolling 1s to hit when standing still.
They also gained some pop with the new “Hierodule Scything Talon” which still gives them a nice reroll 1s to hit, but more importantly, let’s them fight back at S10 but d3+3 damage, which is just so superior to a flat d6. While they still only have 4 attacks, those attacks can really mess up a high value target. They are monsters, so they can still just shoot into combat if they get wrapped, and overall, they produce some decent heat at range.
Now, they aren’t going to just dominate the shooting phase as 12 shots at S8 AP-2 D2 are certainly good, but it is not overwhelmingly so. Hive Guard still shoot better for 25 more points, can shoot twice, and are harder to shoot at, so if looking for sheer efficiency, HG are still our best shooters. That said, the Barbed provides a great anchor to a backline, able to shrug off a lot of heat while dishing out its own, keeping a backfield objective in your possession.
Overall, this is a really smart play to bring back the Hierodule to the table, and I am already building a lot of lists, and I may need 1 more.
To save space, let’s just go through it, the Scythed Hierodule “loses” a lot of the same things. First, it loses 175 points. That’s always nice. It did lose 4 wounds and 2 Strength, but again, the strength is offset by its new weapons, which is just awesome. It did lose 2 attacks though as it is now base 6 attacks and does not get the bonus attack for having 2 sets of Talons, which seems odd to me, but here we are. Losing Agile does hurt this beastie as the 3d6, drop the lowest, charge made it far more reliable as did the auto 6 advance, allowing you to pull off some deep first turn charges with a well placed Onslaught. The Bio-acid spray also loses damage, going down to just a flat damage 1, but this is balanced out by gaining another d6 worth of shots.
The change to its attacks means that the Scythed can actually kill things, doing at minimum 4 damage a pop, that adds up quick, and it is still movement 12, meaning that you can get some great charges out of it on turn 1. It is also cheap, at 235 for what you get, you can take 1 as the new distraction Carnifex, forcing your opponent to have to dedicate resources to it, and if it dies, it is not game over for you. I could also see just running 3 and shoving them down your opponent’s throat while smaller, MSU style units flood the board to take objectives. With only 6 attacks, the Scythed is definitely aimed at killing hard targets like vehicles or very elite squads, so you have to be careful that it doesn’t get bogged down in a horde. That said, the new spray at 3d6 shots is very much good for clearing out those pesky buggers.
No longer being tied to Lord of War slots means that the Scythed (and the Barbed) get so much more mileage out of the various Hive Fleet adaptations. Kraken is an obvious choice for sheer speed, but a custom Hive Fleet for Prey Sight means that the Scythed is hitting on a rerollable WS 2+ on the charge, and that definitely gets some mileage out of those attacks. Between Dimachaeron’s and Scythed, you can run a Nidzilla list that just floods the board with a lot of big nasties that are fast and going to get into your opponent real quick.
Overall, I think the Barbed gained more from this change, but the Sycthed certainly evolved, maybe not as much as its sibling, but this is still a huge improvement to a gorgeous model.
Our big, big flyer had a serious glow up, and in terms of total changes, the Harridan is the big winner for me, going from absolutely wasted to something worth considering at times. First, the Harridan actually got cheaper by 60 points, which is nice, and while 700 points is a lot to spend on a single model, it does bring something quite unique to Tyranids. We’ll get to that. Stat wise, the Harridan actually gains 4 wounds and went up to Strength and Toughness 8, making it a pretty chonky bug. 34 T8 wounds is not easy to chew through quickly, and this is definitely one of the times you want to bring out Dermic Symbiosis for the 5++.
The biggest change is that the Harridan is actually Aircraft, so it gets all those super rules, namely Airborne. This means that it cannot be charged except by units with Fly, and when you factor in the huge size that a Harridan is, this can be a great way to block out enemy units from getting to precious objectives or a particularly important stretch of table. Yes, Aircraft can’t hold objectives, but just using that big ol base to get in the way is still a thing, and while it is not as strong as it was in 8th, it is still a tool that Tyranids have not had. To make it a bit better, the Harridan can also Hover, so you never have to worry about flying off the table when you don’t want to, and you can still drop into Hover and charge when needed. That is really key, and it opens up some missile style plays where you just throw the Harridan across the field to take out an important threat.
And a Harridan can fight thanks to 5 S10 AP-3 D6 attacks that reroll 1s to hit. This outright kills most characters on a single failed save, and it can mulch most vehicles. This is just one of the weird angle-plays that it allows for, but it also a fair shooter. It now has the The Dire Bio-Cannon which has changed quite a bit, losing the Macro ability but gaining 2 extra shots and a boost up to AP-3. This means the Harridan puts out 16 shot of these hits, and it still keeps an actually better version of Frenzied Metabolism, taking d3 wounds to just flat out gain +1 to wound in shooting. This means you are wounding Knights on 2s, which is unheard of for Tyranids at range. On average dice, a Harridan does 17.78 wounds against a Knight in one volley. Damage 3 isn’t amazing for such a heavy hitter, but still, at 16 shots and BS 3+ native, that is nice. This opens up a lot of fun like making the Harridan Kronos for Symbiostorm, and suddenly the Harridan does 22.22 wounds on average, just a little bit of luck to pop a Knight at range in one volley. Again, factor in that a Knight can’t even touch a Harridan, that’s a nice answer if you find yourself in a very Knight heavy meta.
The Harridan does have the limited movement and -1 to hit as other Aircraft (when it is not Hovering that is), but this is nice as it means that you can deploy the Harridan away from any defensive buffs like a Malanthrope, giving you a bit more flexibility. You still can stack the auras together in case you are going against a gun line that has a +1 to hit aura/ability to help cancel it all out. And again, at T8 with 34 wounds, that’s a lot of beef, especially if you have a Maleceptor for that sweet -1S aura.
The Harridan also still can carry 20 Gargoyles, meaning you can use it like a super transport to tag a far away objective and suddenly drop 20 bodies there next turn, taking a corner objective away from your opponent well before they are ready to move on it. 20 Gargolyes are generally safer inside the Harridan than out, so you can keep them out of harm’s way for quite some time.
All that said, there are two big hits against the Harridan that haven’t been fixed: it is a Lord of War and it is still 700 points. This bug is resource intensive in every possible way, requiring one of your Adaptive Physiologies, 3 CP for the Auxiliary detachment, and over a third of your points in a standard tournament game. Is it worth it in a competitive environment? No, but then, it is far more usable than before, and you can make some pretty hilarious armies with it.
Overall, you may start seeing these on the tabletop, and while I don’t think they’ll be the secret sauce to the top tables, they are actually not a total handicap anymore.
So, when we talk about getting a points cut, this is pretty massive. Going from 2,000 to 850 is a mind-boggling drop, and clearly, this means GW wants you to at least think about bringing one to a game. To be fair, it did lose 16 wounds, but well, that seems more than a square trade thus far. It is a little slower, and it did lose a point of leadership, but overall, for 1150 points, that seems right still.
The Dire bio-Cannons are very different and provide reasonable threat. What I said about the Harridan holds true here: this is about as flat out powerful as Nid shooting can be, and there are some tricks here, but overall, it isn’t going to just dominate the shooting phase like other super-heavies can. That said, it does have more overall threat than the Harridan with an upgraded Bio-plasma Torrent with is now 12”, not Pistol (thank God), and S7 rather than 5. This gives the Hierophant some nice anti-infantry shooting to complement the big buckets from the Bio-Cannons. It also still has the better version of Frenzied Metabolism, specifically because it boosts all shooting, so you get +1 to wound on the big guns and the little gun, meaning you are wounding pretty much all of your preferred targets on 2s.
It’s melee threat did get toned down though as its Talons are S10 AP-3 D6, which is still great and definitely about as scary as Tyranid melee gets, but obviously, it is not the S16 D2d6 of the old days, but then the Hierophant is definitely no longer meant to compete with Warlord Titans and the like. Really, it is far more appropriate to be like an expensive Knight like the Poryphrion. It also has the bonus 10 attacks from the Lash Pods, meaning you don’t have to choose one or the other, you get 6 swings with the big talons and then 10 little swings, which hey, 16 attacks in a single fight is not bad at all.
The Hierophant is also still a 2+ save, which again, is money. Since it already has a 5++ built in, you don’t need to worry about that, and again, if you can park it into cover somewhere, it can be a pain to kill at range. Because it is a Lord of War, you aren’t going to get the cool Hive Fleet adaptations in an Auxiliary Super-Heavy detachment (which never gain Detachment bonuses), which is probably for the best, but still, it does limit the usefulness of that 2+ just a touch.
The Hierophant also doesn’t have to choose between options anymore: it just has Hypertoxic Poison Cloud (a replacement to the old acid blood upgrade), which is not bad as the model itself is not that tall but is wide, so if you have a base (we’ll get to that), you can clip a lot of models with this rule, and triggering on a 5+ is definitely not bad. It also just has a 20 Infantry Transport capacity, meaning you can hide a full squad of Genestealers inside (or a full squad of Warriors), which can be super helpful. Mostly, I see the Hierophant as the backfield guardian; it stays put on a critical objective, kills big things at range, can fight off anything that comes close, and if need be, can drop 20 obsec bodies to make sure to keep a critical objective.
Again, like the Harridan, it suffers from being a Lord of War. As we only have 2 now, we can’t even run a full Super-Heavy detachment at 2k points to be able to get Detachment bonuses, so the Hierophant and Harridan never get to have a Hive Fleet trait active. You can still mark either Kronos and target them with Symbiostorm, but the actual reroll 1s to hit would be cool. Again, this is likely a balance thing because having a Hierophant always in cover or rerollings 1 to hit in shooting could be problematic.
The one issue is that the rules specifically call out that it doesn’t have a base, and how to “imagine” one there. The problem is that this bug is huge when you put down a base, meaning it can pretty much never navigate terrain. If you have yours on a base (like me) then if you want to be able to actually navigate the board, you need to redo it, maybe just put bases on the talons for balance and then “draw the line” like arena terrain for the rest of it. Actually physically playing with the model requires some adjustment here, which again, is a bit odd, but here we are.
Overall, I never got to use my Hiero in 8th, so while I don’t see it being anywhere near strong enough to anchor a competitive army, it can certainly be used with good effect in more casual environments. That’s not to say it is a casual piece as well, it is still a giant monster, so make sure if playing a friendly or narrative game, your opponent knows to bring some heavy heat for it.
Well, that was a journey. Thanks for being here with me on it. You can bet your sweet, sweet digestion pools that I will do a full rundown on each and every one of these as part of the first 9th edition updates to Tyranids quite soon, and in the meantime, let’s give a big cheer for the triumphant return of Nidzilla. It may not win you LVO, but it sure as hell will be fun to play. Thanks as always for reading, be sure to check out TFG Radio’s annual Hateku contest, and go get those games in.