Hey all, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, let’s talk about those resin beauties with Claws for days, the Stonecrusher Carnifex! They want to give the biomass the clamps, if they can get there. Of course, be sure to keep updating your Hive Fleet with all the biomasses assorted tricks over at Frontline’s Tactics Corner.
- Bio-Flail: Melee. S8 AP-1 D2. Make 2 hit rolls for each attack with this weapon. (May replace its two Bio-Flails with two Wrecker Claws)
- Wrecker Claws: Melee. S14 AP-3 D3. If equipped with 2 Wrecker Claws, reroll To-Hit rolls. If targeting a Vehicle or Monster, the damage value becomes 5.
- Thresher Scythe: Melee. S4 AP-1 D1. Make d3 attacks with this weapon in addition to bearer’s normal attacks.
- Instinctive Behaviour: If this model is not within 24″ of a friendly HIVE FLEET Synapse unit, it suffers -1 To Hit on shooting attacks against an enemy that is not the closest unit to it and -2 to Charge rolls against an enemy that is not the closest unit to it.
- Carapace Chitin Rams: When this model finishes a Charge Move, roll a d6. On a 4+, one unit within Engagement Range takes d3 Mortal Wounds unless it is a Vehicle or Monster, then it takes d6 Mortal wounds. In addition, if this model makes a charge move, during that turn, it gains +1 To Hit in melee.
The Stonecrusher Carnifex is a melee beatstick that is best when targeting medium vehicles or less with some play against hordes of marines.
Statwise, the SC is mostly in line with the standard Carnifex profile of 7” movement, T7, 8 Wounds, 4 attacks base, WS/BS 4+, and a 3+ save. The main difference is that a SC is base Strength 7, which matters for both of its weapons. With Crushing Claws, that puts it at S14 AP-3 D3 (and D5 against Vehicles/Monsters), making it a pretty decent threat to anything in those categories. If rocking the claws, you have 4 attacks that reroll to hit, already strong, and again, at high strength with the potential for high damage against the right targets. That S7 also gets boosted to S8 with the Bio-Flail, the all important number for wounding Space Marines and the like on 2s, which helps get that extra mileage out of those 8 attacks, especially since the Bio-Flails don’t reroll. The Claw/Flail debate isn’t really that much of an issue as they have distinctly different jobs, but one choice is just mathematically better. A Flail SC is really there to help eat away at big groups of Primaris bodies, but at only AP-1, they are saving half the time, so a single SC is not likely to kill more than 2 on the charge. On the flip side, the Claw SC is not likely to kill more than 2 either, but the SC is not designed to do such, and against any vehicle or monster, the SC will do far, far more work than the Flail. The only target where the Flail is superior is against light infantry where volume matters, but in the end, the Claw is just a better weapon against most targets.
Defensively, T7 and a 3+ save with 8 wounds isn’t bad, but well, it isn’t great either. Any dedicated firepower will certainly scoop up a SC pretty quickly, and the best you can really do is layer the usual buffs to make it more resource intensive for your opponent to kill. They will certainly kill a SC or 2 in one shooting phase, but with the Maleceptor, Venomthrope/Malanthrope, and/or cover in play, it could take them all their fire power, which is what you want. The real hit to them here is that you cannot take SCs in broods of 3 anymore, so you can’t just flood the field with them, so by being limited to 3 at most, your opponent can easily target them and remove them from the equation pretty early on. If you are running a Carnifex Carnival, having 3 does help add some solid anti-tank, but again, they will be priority targets, and they aren’t that hard to kill.
The Stonecrusher is not a subtle beast. It needs to rush the board and it needs to charge. Getting the +1 to hit and the chance to do d3 (or d6) Mortal Wounds is necessary for their offensive output, so you need to be aggressive. You can always do the Swarmlord missile with Hive Commander, but well, that is a precious resource best spent on other melee beatsticks or even a horde of Obsec bodies to dominate the center on turn 1. That is another inherent problem with the Stonecrusher is that while they are relatively cheap for a melee hitter, the usual Tyranid tricks to get them into the fight are better spent on more damaging creatures like the Dimachaeron or the Scythed Hierodule. We have plenty of ways to try and get them up the board, but at movement 7” with no access to adrenal glands (or tusks, or any other upgrade), they are not as sure of a bet as other choices.
In terms of Hive Fleets, the best choice is Kraken for the speed. Stonecrushers need to get up the field and they need to charge, so having that extra burst of speed is critical, and since they don’t fight well against hordes for the most part, being able to Fall Back and still charge is critical. If doing a Jormungandr gunline, SCs can work as line backers, mostly hiding and waiting to counter charge, and the constant cover save makes them a bit more of a pain to kill, but still, any dedicated firepower will bring them down. Gorgon is also not a bad choice for the reroll to 1s on wounds in melee, making the Claws even more efficient at killing.
I’ve covered a lot of downsides, and well, there are unfortunately a lot. Stonecrushers have little customization, and while they have two choices of weapons, Claws are just better in almost every way. They cannot be taken in Broods, which makes them easy targets to snipe out as you can have at most 3 rather than 5 or 6. They hit hard, but at 115 points, they are still a bit pricey for what they can do. They can certainly benefit from Tyranid tricks to speed them up, but those resources are better spent on larger, more concentrated threats. You can’t really boost them with Old One Eye anymore thanks to the cap on To-Hit modifiers, so they aren’t the super accurate threats that they could be in 8th. Really, the Stonecrushers want to be the elite Carnifexes, but they don’t bring enough of the “elite” to actually be worth it. It is also worth mentioning that the kit doesn’t come with 2 Bio-Flails, just one Flail and 1 claw, which is no longer a viable build, so if you do want a proper double-flail SC, you need to buy 2 kits, which just seems odd to me. Maybe Forgeworld has updated the kit as I bought mine several years ago, but the website still doesn’t list a double-flail version yet.
Overall, 40/100. Claw SCs can do some work, but they just aren’t survivable enough or spammable enough to really be worth it. Again, one does make a great base for a distinctive Old One Eye though. Thanks as always for reading, and a big thanks to those that participated in TFG’s annual Hateku contest, and I hope the winners are enjoying their swag.