Tyranids: 9th Ed Forgeworld review – Scythed Hierodule

Hey everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, we are going to look at the number one stunner in Tyranids when it comes to opening metal boxes for a snack: The Scythed Hierodule. If you want something big to die, load up this bug, and if you want to keep yourself up to date on all the new rules and combos out there, be sure to check out Frontline’s Tactics Corner!

The Scythed Hierodule is all about mid-board pressure thanks to strong speed, solid offense, and decent defense. 


  • Bio-Acid Spray: Range – 18″ Heavy 3d6 S6 AP-2 D1. This weapon automatically hits.
  • Hierodule Scything talons” Melee. S+2 AP-3 D3+d3. You can reroll 1s to hit with this weapon.

Special Rules:

  • Instinctive Behavior: if this model is more than 24″ from a friendly HIVE FLEET Synapse unit, this model suffers -1 to hit on shooting attacks against any target other than the closest and -2 to charges against any target other than the closest.
  • Death Throes: When this model is destroyed, roll a d6. On a 6, it does 3 Mortal Wounds to all units within 3″.

Stat wise, the Scythe is a beefy monster with Strength and Toughness 8, 18 wounds, a 12” healthy move, and 6 attacks.  The key point here is that the Scythe has a 12” move when healthy, opening up a host of threat potential as it has several ways to get into your opponent’s lines on Turn 1.   There is the always tried and true Swarmlord missile, allowing the Scythe to go up to 24” in a turn, so that’s crossing the board and into your opponent’s lines immediately.  If going Kraken, you can use Opportunistic Advance and the psychic power Onslaught for a 3d6, take the highest advance (so usually at least a 4 times 2) and still charge, for an average threat range of about 27”.   There’s also just using Metabolic Overdrive to send the Scythe 24”+ up a flank, and while it cannot charge, it can certainly pose some serious threat as your opponent now has to consider how to handle such a heavy threat deep on their flank while also dealing with the threats in the center.  The Scythe cannot navigate terrain well, but the 12” movement does give it enough juice to generally find a path into the fight. 

For offense, the Scythe is Tyranids’ premier armor cracker, and it will absolutely murder just about any hard target that doesn’t rock a strong invulnerable save. With 6 attacks at Strength 10, AP-3, and D3+d3, at base WS 3+ rerolling 1s to hit, plus access to Voracious Appetite for a full reroll to wounds, just about any single target is dead if a Scythe hits it. On average dice, a Scythe does about 14 wounds to a Knight with no other buffs, but if you factor in Prey Sight for +1 to hit on the charge, it jumps up to about 18ish, and if you throw in reroll wounds, now you are about 21 or so, and well, that almost one-rounds a Knight, especially if that Knight had eaten a few smites beforehand.   Against most non-Monster characters, a Scythe just needs 1 hit to go through to eat them but 2 will guarantee that most characters just explode thanks to doing 4 damage minimum (5 on average).  Where the Scythe falls off is against elite infantry with a strong invulnerable save.  On average, a Scythe kills a whole 2 Terminators with Storm Shields or 2 Custodes, so yah, don’t send a Scythe against multi-wound units with invulnerable saves as it just doesn’t have the number of attacks to get through the defense.  Of course, the Scythe also cannot handle hordes well at all.  With only 6 attacks, that is nowhere near enough volume to chew through a tarpit unit. It does have the 3d6 flamer to help clear out chaff, perfect for if it gets tarpitted, but still, that is not really enough heat to guarantee that it frees itself.

By Kielari on DeviantArt

On defense, the Scythe isn’t a pushover to kill, but dedicated AT weaponry will kill it. The usual Eradictor squad kills it in a single turn, so if you really want it to soak damage, it definitely needs Dermic Symbiosis for that 5++.  If you plan on sending the Scythe up a flank as a bit of a distraction Carnifex, keeping it in range of Catalyst can also help as a 5++ and a 5+++ Feel No Pain will ensure that your opponent has to dedicate the majority of their kill to bring it down before it gets to charge and cause problems.  This then means the rest of your forces are spared a turn of fire power.  All told, the Scythe brings good defense, but nowhere near as hardy as a Barbed Hierodule, especially since the Scythe wants to right up in the scrum.

You can mitigate this by trying to bring in the Scythe from reserve. It has no inherent ability to boost its charges, but you can either set up an out of reserve charge via Hunter’s Drive or Hive Instinct.  If you have a strong shooting element (a Barbed Hierodule or Exocrine with Synapse will work) to tag a few models off the primary target, the Scythe can come in with a 3d6, drop the lowest charge. That said, the Scythe generally doesn’t want to hit units unless they are heavy, heavy infantry without invulnerable saves like Centurions.  Really, the best way to ensure that a Scythe gets there is probably to take two or at least take another heavy melee threat, so your opponent has to decide which will die. 

There are a few Hive Fleet standouts to be sure.  Kraken is a strong choice as getting a reliable advance on a model with base 12” move opens up a lot of plays, and really, the best ability is for the Scythe to Fall Back and Charge, helping alleviate one of its weaknesses.  Behemoth opens up rerollable charges, which helps make sure that the Scythe is hitting the targets that you want to hit.  Gorgon is also interesting for the reroll 1s in melee, which with strength 10, means rerolling a lot of wounds.  The custom Hive Fleets are attractive as well, especially Prey Sight for +1 to hit on the charge, which just makes the Scythe super accurate.  Healing 1 wound a turn or +2 attacks when at bottom tier also help a great deal.  Really, Kraken is likely the best for more speed and more delivery options.

There are a few down notes to remember when using a Scythed.  First, at 235 points, it is not a small investment, and since it has some really bad matchups, namely multi-wound infantry with strong invulnerable saves or a horde unit, you can easily spend a lot of points for not a lot of gain.  If you don’t go first, it can be an easier target for heavy shooting, and since it can’t hide behind Obscuring Terrain due to its 18 wounds, it will take fire.  Couple this with its cost, if you throw in the usual defensive tech, you are spending a lot of points.  It may be fast, but it cannot navigate terrain in any special way, so your opponent can counterplay the Scythe if they are savvy.  The Scythe also requires a coveted Heavy Support slot (but it does make good use of it), and for any real survivability, it needs one of your Adaptive Physiologies, so it is resource intensive outside of the usual fun.  While the Scythe is great at murdering the right targets, it is wasted on anything else, and well, thanks to being a melee unit, it needs to get there first, so you are spending even more tactical resources to get it there.  In a meta defined by a lot of vehicles and Knights, a Scythe is very useful, but if it runs into a lot of bodies or units with a strong invulnerable save, it will not be successful.

Overall: 70/100. The Scythed Hierodule is absolutely amazing at murdering hard targets that lack an invulnerable save, but it can be counterplayed a bit too easily, so outside of a pure Nidzilla list, it likely won’t vibe well with a lot of lists, and it can’t really star in a list solo. 

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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.

One Response to “Tyranids: 9th Ed Forgeworld review – Scythed Hierodule”

  1. Ghosar December 13, 2020 1:20 am #

    I agree on the 70 but I don’t agree on the hors fighting capacity. This is our very best tool against hords. It attacks and its flamer which can shoot in melee means that on the tyranid turn you will be clearing over ten models between the shoot and fight phases. Then moral may do some more stuff.
    You completely forgot to factor in the acid spray.

    It still is the worst of the three FW « stars », but mostly because of the very badly written terrain rules

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