Welcome, dear viewers! Alex Macdougall, one of the talented coaches at the Art of War, and a veteran commander of the Hive Mind, has joined us to lend his expertise on the new Imperial Armor book!
Forgeworld is upon us, and although it’s easy to forget, Tyranids actually have models in that book. I know! Of course, we have all forgotten because other than the Malanthrope, Tyranid Forgeworld has been that horrible garbage water that leaks out into the bin. It was so bad that I had assumed that on the release of Imperial Armour, I would look to see in what way they had ruined Malanthrope (10 wounds maybe), skim the rest of the datasheets, and move on with my life. To my surprise and delight, however. Holy crap. They aren’t just good; they are stellar. In fact, they are so good it’s almost a negative thing as they eclipse every single monster in the Tyranid codex by ludicrous amounts. The combat beasts hit massively harder with far more durability, and most are faster too.
We will start with “the littlest Forgeworld that could” in Sky Slasher swarms. There isn’t a whole lot to talk about here. The datasheet hasn’t changed at all outside of the movement characteristic and gaining the fly keyword. Rippers to Sky Slashers is a 3 point increase, and moving to a 12″ move and flight in exchange for losing objective secured as they move to the fast attack slot. Worth it? Probably wholly dependent on your list building decisions. Both are entirely viable competitive options, though. Rippers are excellent screens with great wounds per points and valuable in any army, and Sky slashers aren’t much different.
Continuing on in the small category, we also have the Meiotic Spore. Again not a whole lot to say here. The damage output has become a little more consistent, but its loss being deployed on the mid-board pregame probably leaves these on the shelf now. Being able to zone out predeployed units like Nurglings and Incursors was most definitely their biggest draw. Instead, the deep strike is just something that Nids have zero difficulties accomplishing.
Time to look at our one HQ choice in Forgeworld. I was most nervous about this change. The Malanthrope was the one Forgeworld unit from before that actually had a decent ruleset. Surprisingly it even got better. It did receive a modest point hike, but it most definitely was compensated richly for it. The most apparent boost is the increase from 3″ to 6″ range on its -1 to hit aura, which is an incredible boost already. It also had its prey adaptation rule rewritten in a way that actually allows it to complete. When it has met the requirements for prey adaptation, it turns into a Space Marine lieutenant for the rest of the game. Awesome!
Next, we have the Stone Crusher Carnifex, and man, is this thing really close to being good. It has the stats of the Carnifex except for a boost to strength 7 ( hints for the future?). It deals more mortal wounds than a typical Carnifex on the charge and is equipped with slightly better weapons. Honestly, the only thing it’s missing is “brood,” so we can take more than one per heavy slot and the usual Carnifex upgrades like tusks and spore cysts. I feel Stonecrushers with a native -1 to hit for 10 points would be the final push they needed. In reality, these are still solid units, but they are just getting outclassed by the other units we are about to discuss.
Now we are getting into the great stuff. The Scythed Hierodule is a beast. We finally get a super punchy beast outside of a Tyrant variant with better than ws4. Six attacks, reroll ones, and an absurd 3+d3 damage at s10 will let this thing crush through heavy targets in a single combat, wallop marines that Apothecary FNP auras won’t matter and slay primaris characters with single swings. One of the most exciting and important things to note and hopefully another sign of future Nid things is that the degradation table really is quite good. No reduction in strength, no loss of attacks. Only WS and movement. Please let this carry forward! The Hierodule also comes with a pretty savage flamer at 3d6 s6 -2 d1 and a huge 18″ range. A weapon like this is horrible to be overwatched by and adds a whole extra level of damage if the opponent gets stuck in combat with it. It is also a prime target for pathogenic slime. Obviously, as we get into the larger beasts, we also see them become prime targets for targeted buffs. Catalyst protecting 18 wounds of t8 reaches into silly durability. Dermic Symbiosis to give it a 5++ and double its wound bracket also keeps it active and damaging until just before it is killed. This is the time where we remind ourselves that this unit is 15 more points than Old One Eye, one of the best units in the Tyranid codex, and we can see just how much better these Forgeworld beasts are. Of course, there are some downsides to this model, which really do relate to the rest of the monsters we are going to go over. The biggest one is, of course, that 18 wounds. Although it’s a lot for most armies to push through, it cannot hide unless you are playing on some particular tables of terrain. The other issue is that the huge bases that it sits on may make maneuvering through terrain challenging and also may make it easy to be walled out by trash units.
Next, we talk about my personal favorite. Is it the best thing in the book? Probably not, but quite likely second, and this thing is nuts. The Dimachearon is everything I wanted to come back to Nids. It’s fast as hell, 100% combat, and has some fantastic movement jank. The Dimachearon has a solid stat profile but t7 compared to the rest of the big boys. However, it makes up for this with a built-in 5++. Eighteen wounds, as mentioned above, the same damage profile as the Hierodules but with reroll all hits, making it exceptionally accurate and keeping it accurate even as it gets damaged. The true power of the Dimachearon is that it ignores vertical distance on terrain and intervening troops while moving, advancing, and charging. This makes it a guided missile with the right support. Kraken, Dima, and Swarmlord are the pairing Nid players have wanted since Genestealers were executed in 9th. Nowhere is safe when it can step through your lines and through your walls. Expect to see some surprised faces when a Dima steps 20″ and then 18 inches over everything and knocks out multiple characters turn one. It also has a unique weapon that triggers into engagement range after attacks have been taken. Your opponent has to beat your strength with theirs plus a single d6. Typically a 50/50 chance against marines; however, if it fails, the unit suffers a super smite! And if a model is killed by it, then the Dima gets a 5fnp for the rest of the game. Completely nuts. The final cherry on top is adaptive physiology. With the fact that it comes with an invulnerable save and the shear rate at which it murders things, accelerated digestion is the clear winner—no need to worry about being bracketed when you can kill your way back to 9+ wounds.
On to the probable best unit in the Nids range. The Barbed Hierodule. Extremely well rounded with nearly identical stats to the Scythed Dule, the Barbed needs almost no support to bolster nids forces but still benefits massively from them. 4 attacks instead of 6 compared to the Scythed but with the same profile and notably an increase to 2+ armor. Expect to see at a 3-0 table near you some mix of 2 to 3 Barbed surrounding a Malanthrope and maybe a Maleceptor in a Jorm brood with an ignore cover warlord trait. If you are trying to keep track of that, it’s 36 s8 ap2 d2 shots ignoring cover protected by 54 t8, 1+ save, -1 to hit, -1 strength wounds. This core will not die from shooting. Ever. To beat this, you will have to play to the mission. Tagging these things in combat also does not work well as they will shoot into combat well and will still punch most things to death quickly. Barbed Hierodule suffers from the exact same issues that Scythed does but to a somewhat lesser extent with a better save to protect those 18 wounds and less of a need to move with shooting at their disposal.
Finally, we move to the BIG BOYS. The Harridan and Hierophant. The same profile aside from saves, same close combat weapons, same main cannon, and same ability to add a plus to wound. Once again, these units have the exact same boons and problems as above except pushed to the extreme. Movement on decently dense terrain will be a nightmare for the Heirophant and possibly for the harridan as well. Catalyst on them is an incredible change in durability, and adaptive physiologies are obviously the best value you can get. The -1 to hit built into the harridan is an excellent defensive tool going second as after turn one. I would imagine it dropping to hover almost immediately to get those flat 6 weapons going. The fact that both of these are also our only transports that aren’t just drop pods is an interesting side note. Being able to drop 20 gargoyles out of the harridan on turn 2 to mess with movement and tie something up deep is a fascinating, if expensive, option. Though, the elephant in the deployment zone is that both of these models do not fit into dawn of war deployment zone, which may leave you in a horrible state at a tournament. This issue may mean that these models are still left on the shelf until a general FAQ addresses things.
All in all, these changes absolutely breathe new life into nids. Completely changing list decisions and altering how Nids even think about approaching match ups. This is the raw power Nids we’re looking for to back up the jank. Like I had described in the opening, this release really shines a light on the sad state of the Nid codex, but hopefully, this is enough to get us to our release. Good hunting, hive minds.
Thanks for the tips Alex! To see more of his excellent coaching, check out the War Room, where we do weekly clinics that cover every faction!