Tyranids: 9th Edition Forgeworld Review – Harridan

Hey all, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, let’s get into one of our biggest bugs, the flyer without the wires, the winged ride for our winged Gants, the harrowing Harridan! If you like your bugs big, they just don’t get much bigger. Of course, there’s lots going on over at Frontline’s Tactics Corner, so make sure you keep up or risk falling behind.


  • Gargantuan Scything talons: Melee. S10. AP-3  D6.  You may reroll To Hit rolls of 1.
  • Dire Bio-cannon: Range 48”. Heavy 8. S10 AP-3 D3.  Has two!

Special Rules

  • Frenzied Metabolism: The first time this model is selected to shoot in each of your Shooting phases, you can suffer d3 Mortal Wounds. If you do so, add 1 to all ranged attacks Wound rolls. 
  • Airborne: This model cannot charge, it can only be charged by units with the FLY keyword. It can only fight against models in its Engagement Range with the FLY keyword.  It can only be attacked by models with the FLY keyword.
  • Supersonic: Each time this model makes a Normal Move, Advances, or Falls Back, first pivot it on the spot up to 90 degrees, then move the model straight forwards. It cannot pivot again after the initial pivot.
  • Hard to Hit: Each time a ranged attack is made against this model, subtract 1 from that attack roll.
  • Hover: In your Command Phase, this model can hover. It loses the Airborne, Supersonic, and Hard to Hit rules. It’s movement value becomes 20”.  This lasts until the next Command Phase.
  • Titanic: This model can charge in a turn in which it Fell Back.
  • Death Throes: When this model dies, roll a d6. On a 6, it deals d6 Mortal Wounds to all units with 2d6”.

The Harridan has had a major glow-up since earlier editions, and it brings some potent shooting, surprising melee, and just overall blitzing speed. 

The Harridan now has a statline more befitting its rather impressive model. At T8, 34 Wounds, and with a 3+ save, that is a lot of chonk, and when you add in other defensive buffs,  a Harridan can be quite annoying to bring down at range.  Really, the biggest thing is that you want to make sure that you throw on Adaptive Physiology here for that sweet 5++ and double wounds for determining tiers.  If you also make the Harridan your target for Catalyst, giving it a 5+++ Feel No Pain, then you have a whole lot of layered protection that even really dedicated firepower will struggle to meaningfully harm.  Especially since you can stay in the air to avoid a lot of melee threats, the Harridan becomes a piece that can last for quite some time. 

Offensively, the Harridan also can do some damage.  At BS 3+ when healthy, those 16 S10 shots are about as accurate as Tyranids get, and with flat D3 (which can be D4 if you use Pathogenic Slime), the Harridan can wreak havoc on elite units or even do major damage at range to really heavy threats like Mortarion.  This is especially true with Frenzied Metabolism as it means that the Harridan is going to wound just about any target on 2s unless they have a special rule, getting you more mileage out of those shots. With a wide range of movement, the Harridan can get some great angles for shooting, making even Obscuring Terrain a bit of a non-issue, and if it gets trapped by tricky model placement, it can either fly off the table or simply go into Hover. 

Speaking of Hover, this is awesome, not just for giving you more freedom of movement on the table, but also for leveraging even more offense out of the Harridan.  With 5 attacks at BS 3+, rerolling 1s, S10, AP -3 and just flat Damage 6, the Harridan will murder most single model targets like vehicles or even more characters as all they have to do is fail one save before being just another scrap of biomass.  You can also pop Voracious Hunger for a reroll to wound if you really need it, making sure that you are forcing enough saves to kill just about anything, even with just 5 attacks.  The melee aspect isn’t really the main threat, but being able to gun down one target while then charging into another just adds more threat vectors.

Speaking of threats, because of Hover, you can do some pretty hilarious first turn bombs with the Harridan.  At just a base 20” movement, on turn 1, the Harridan can pretty easily make it into the center, but if you start getting cheeky and throwing in the Swarmlord’s Hive Commander, the Harridan can forgo shooting to move a huge distance across the board (and across models thanks to FLY), perfect for sniping out a lynchpin character, or just putting your opponent under an insane amount of backfield pressure. Especially if going against an army with a small artillery castle, sending a Harridan in to mulch some of it and engage the rest on turn 1, even when they are in the back corner of your opponent’s deployment zone, is pretty enjoyable.

Since the Harridan can hold 20 Gargoyles, this also becomes a way to drop a relatively annoying squad right into the enemy backfield that can either hop out next turn or if the Harridan dies, then you have those little buggers waiting, perhaps clogging up an important objective.  If going for more of a gunboat style use, the Harridan can still get in the way a bit, cutting off some movement with its base, helping you win the positioning war early on in the game although this isn’t as effective as it would have been in 8th

Because the Harridan is a Lord of War, unless you are playing a 2.5K game, the Harridan will not ever have an active Hive Fleet trait because Auxiliary Lord of War detachments do not gain those bonuses, so you have to take 3 to get anything.  They’d be nice, but really, it is the stratagems and other synergies that matter more like Hive Commander, or if you want to really load up on shooting, Kronos for Symbiostorm.  A powered up Harridan puts out a lot of shots, and getting 2-3 more hits of the big cannons is certainly awesome.  Since the Harridan moves so fast, it is also a perfect target for the Deepest Shadow, definitely making armies that rely on a specific psychic power much more manageable.  Another effective tactic that is Hive Fleet neutral is if you are going against a more melee focused army that won’t shoot the big bug down, giving it Synapse instead of the 5++ and double wounds on its table allows you to make use of Hunter’s Drive as the Harridan is going to get some kills, and this allows you to get some longer charges off with your melee forces.

So what’s the downside? Well, it really comes down to just cost more than anything. At 700 points, a Harridan is 35% of your army in a standard 2K game, and well, that’s a lot.  Does it do 700 points worth of damage each game? That depends on the matchup and the dice, and well, that’s just the law of big models: swing.  The more you invest in a single piece, the more that model’s small amount of dice have a large impact on the game, so all it takes is for the Harridan to roll poorly once, and the game could very well be over.  It doesn’t just eat points, but it eats some CPs as it has to go into an Aux detachment, and Tyranids do love our CPs.  It also needs Dermic Symbiosis as the 5++ makes it much harder to kill, but the sweetest money is that the double wounds aspect of it, which I usually forget about, means your opponent has to do 26 wounds to the Harridan before it ever degrades.  This makes it far more effective on the table, but again, you only get at most 2 Adaptive Physiologies, so they need to be spent carefully.   The Harridan is also Aircraft, our only one, but costing so much, it means that a large chunk of your army cannot meaningfully interact in the objective aspect of the game, and well, that is how you win the game.  Killing models is fun and all, but if you are really focused on winning, you need to remember that controlling objectives is more effective than trying to just kill models.   The Harridan’s lack of competitiveness is mainly because the game itself is not about one giant model kicking ass. 

Overall, 60/100.  The Harridan is fun, really fun, and it can do good work, but it does not really mesh well in a competitive list thanks to essentially yielding the objective game to your opponent. Thanks as always for reading, and next time, we’ll finish up the Forgeworld Compendium with the biggest bug of them all. Stay safe and play some games!

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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.

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