Tyranids: 9th Ed Forgeworld Review – Sky-slasher Swarms

Hey everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, we are going to look at one of our smallest members of the Hive Fleet, the flying fury of teeth, the Sky-slasher Swarm. As always, you should also be keeping up to date with all the tactics and tricks of our prey over at Frontline’s Tactics Corner!


  • Generic Melee Weapon – S3 AP0 D1

Any model may purchase:

  • Spinemaws – Range 12″ Pistol 4. S3 AP0 D1.

Special Rules:

  • Instinctive Behaviour – If this model is not within 24″ of a friendly HIVE FLEET synapse unit, it suffers -1 to ranged hit rolls against targets that are not the closest to it, and it suffers -2 to charge rolls against targets that are not the closest to it.
  • Swooping Assault – This unit may be placed in reserves and enter anywhere on the board more than 9″ away from any enemy units.

Sky-slashers are a bit like their kin, the Ripper, in that they can be used as an MSU unit for objectives or even as a frontline screen.

Statwise, Sky-slashers are essentially identical to Rippers with Strength, Toughness, and Wounds 3.  They also have 4 attacks at WS 5+, able to take Spinemaws (not ideal), and still rock that dinky 6+ save. The only difference here is that Sky-slashers have a 12” move and the FLY keyword, making them far more agile than normal Rippers.  Sky-slashers can also come in from reserve now inherently, so they are pound for pound just faster than Rippers, but you pay 4 points more per model for it.  They also pay a little more Spinemaws than normal Rippers do.

So what can you do with this speed? Well, there are two choices.  You can take a full unit of 9 and use them as a forward screen, able to zoom up the board and into the center, and with 27 wounds but with only 9, relatively small, models to hide, if the terrain is right, they can be relatively safe from enemy fire as they jump from terrain to terrain and put pressure on objectives early.  You can also modify this tactic to sling them up a flank to take an objective away from the main fight.  With so many wounds that are easier to hide, it can be hard for ranged armies to whittle them down.  Take a big unit, have them use Metabolic Overdrive to rocket up a flank, and they can easily take a far, corner objective on your opponent’s side of the board in one turn.  The other option is just to use their Fast Attack slot as a means of putting in relatively cheap bodies to bring down and try to snag forgotten objectives.  Especially if you are playing a Nidzilla style list where disposable bodies can be at a premium, having a few units of Skyslashers to go with your regular Rippers can help keep you in the mission while your big bugs go out there and reap the biomass. 

Sky-slashers, like Rippers, are not really about doing damage. With only a WS 5+, they aren’t leveraging their 4 attacks base well, especially at S3 with no AP.  If you are relying on Sky-slashers to actually kill something, your plan has likely already fallen apart.  They will not survive a lot of attention as T3 with a 6+ save means they are easy meat for just about anything, and their only real defense is being able to move quickly from terrain to terrain, using their relatively small profile to their advantage.

In terms of Hive Fleet, Kraken greatly increases their speed, which is what Sky-slashers have going for them.  Being able to get that extra speed on the advance, and even the chance to Fall Back over enemies and then charge to tie up something nasty can be clutch. If going custom, Membranous Mobility isn’t bad as the -1 to hit in melee against them makes them a bit better as chaff.  The other Hive Fleets don’t really give them much benefit really, but if taken as MSU objective campers that are highly disposable, they don’t really need much either.

Of course, the problem with Sky-slashers is that they have to compete with Rippers for the same jobs.  There is certainly merit to the math that standard Rippers are our cheapest point-per-wound unit, so taking big squads of 9 as chaff makes sense there.  Sky-slashers are 4 points more for the same job, so you are losing out on that efficiency as Termagants are the same price per wound, but Termagants have more access to certain defensive buffs.  Part of the problem here too is that Rippers and Termagants are both ObSec, something the Sky-slashers are not.  Seeing as how Sky-slashers will struggle to kill even a 10 man Guard squad, they are not going to be able to hold objectives away from larger Obsec units, and smaller, more elites units will just eat them.  If you want Sky-slashers as just disposable drops for an MSU style list, Rippers are still better because they are cheaper, and well, they are Troops so chances are, you have plenty of slots open.  If you are building a Brigade, Skyslashers become usable as cheap Fast Attack choices, but if you are really looking to cut points, a Mucolid is 25 points cheaper, so again, if it is about just filling slots, a single Mucolid is much more efficient. 

Overall: 40/100.  Sadly, Sky-slashers are just too expensive, and while they are certainly fast, Tyranids have plenty of fast units, many of them just better.  Thanks as always for reading, and there is still time to head over to TFG Radio’s page for a chance to win some cool stuff!

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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.

3 Responses to “Tyranids: 9th Ed Forgeworld Review – Sky-slasher Swarms”

  1. Xeno on your left December 27, 2020 4:35 am #

    The excuse me sir, have you heard about the Great Devourer joke has been used too many times, it aint funny any more

    • Ohlmann December 28, 2020 1:03 am #

      It’s attrition humor. It will continue until you concede it’s funny.

  2. Dakkath December 27, 2020 4:30 pm #

    Poor sky slashers suffer the double hit of costing more than rippers and not being troops. Being fast attack has always been a massive hit against them. I think if they were troops, but still more expensive than rippers, they might be usable.

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