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Thread: Tyranid Tactica

  1. #21


    Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! In the 5th Edition codex, Pyrovores were regarded as one of - if not the - worst units in the game. Sadly, fortune really hasn't smiled on these maligned beasts in the new codex either. They may seem more effective at first glance, but the loss of a certain unit in the 6th Edition transition has left them in the dark. I hope you enjoy this article!

    I'm going to be frank and up front. Don't take this article seriously. We know the rules designers that worked on the Pyrovore didn't take that poor creature seriously either. Though it may seem like I am getting really worked up and going on a rant, I'm just trying to poke fun at the situation, which is that the poor Pyrovore is endangered. Am I a terrible person for doing so? Probably, but at least the call to save the Pyrovore might finally be heard!



    Oh boy. If you thought I was negative with the Haruspex - when really I was just trying to properly convey the issues I and competitive gamers have with it - then you haven't seen anything worthwhile yet. I guess I can confidently say "where do I start?" because it is the honest truth. When you buy a model for use in games such as Warhammer 40000, you expect them to be....perhaps not worthwhile, necessarily, but at least have a use. To have a point. To have some kind of purpose. And ultimately, this is where the 6th Edition Pyrovore, ironically, has to bow down to its 5th Edition predecessor. The latter had a delivery system to make the unit actually able to do something in a game. The former does not, and despite the points decrease and stat boost from the previous edition, the Pyrovore is now broken utterly. But this is a bit too theoretical, isn't it? I haven't really explained why the Pyrovore is "broken", nor have I highlighted anything inherently good or bad about it. So, let's have a look at its stats.

    The stat-line of the Pyrovore is identical to that of the Biovore, with threes for the most part and a few fours here and there. Its Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill of 3 are middling, but not too important ultimately. The Pyrovore lacks a Ballistic Skill-based shooting attack and doesn't want to be in combat anyway. Its Initiative value is a pretty terrible two, and with two attacks base, you can kind of see already why a Pyrovore shouldn't really be engaging in close combat. Now we get to the good stuff; Strength and Toughness 4 with three wounds per model makes Pyrovores the equivalent of Warriors in terms of durability. Heck, they even have the 'iconic' 4+ armour save to boot. This isn't too bad, really, as it means a Pyrovore can stand up to quite a bit of punishment from anything that isn't AP4 or Strength 8. Three wounds per model is not to be under-estimated. Now, as Pyrovores aren't Synapse creatures, you can expect their Leadership value to be low. And oh yes, indeed it is, with Leadership 6 being equivalent to that of Hormagaunts and Termagants.

    Well, the stat-line isn't too bad, right? It's kind of like a Warrior that isn't nearly as good in combat, and lacks guns entirely. Nor is it a Synapse creature. It doesn't have Shadow in the Warp, and it also doesn't have Leadership 10 by extension. Pyrovores also can't take any upgrades, meaning they are stuck with that they have. They need support from a Synapse creature as their Instinctive Behaviour of Feeding means they can kill each other when in units of more than one. They are pretty terrible in combat with three Strength 4 attacks on the charge at Weapon Skill 3 striking at Initiative 2 - unless they charge through cover, where Initiative 1 takes precedence due to a lack of assault grenades. They also can't go above a unit size total of three. So, ummm.....what do they have over Warriors, exactly? Oh, that's right. They are garbage impersonations of Warriors that don't have the support abilities to rescue them from mediocre at best damage output, and cannot be fielded by themselves with their Feed result. Really. What do Pyrovores get?

    I'll tell you. They get a heavy flamer. It's called a Flame Spurt, but really, it's just a heavy flamer. Nice, a cool and strong template weapon! Right? Uh-huh. Now, let me carefully explain why this is one of the worst designs for a unit Games Workshop have ever conjured up, and why it is utterly broken. First up, the Pyrovore's only ranged attack is an 8" long template. That's fine in most cases, where units have transports, the Deep Strike special rule, the Infiltrate special rule, the Outflank special rule, and a bunch of other rules to make up for it. These units have what is called a "delivery system" either optional or innate to the unit. They can reliably get close enough to use the weapon you pay for, the weapon that defines their usage in a game. An example of this would be Wraithguard armed with expensive D-Scythes. On foot, Wraithguard are very tough and thus can survive a withering amount of punishment, but you preferably want them in a transport to "deliver the goods", so to speak. Typically, this involves purchasing a dedicated transport in the form of a Wave Serpent. The Serpent is very fast, durable and can pretty reliably deliver its cargo to where they need to be. Simple, effective. Another example is a squad of Sternguard Veterans armed with combi-flamers. This unit can either opt to take a ground transport, like Eldar - albeit less effective with a lower cost to compensate - or to Deep Strike through the use of a Drop Pod. They can be delivered to their target on the very first turn, unleashing a brutal alpha strike with their flame template weapons. Though these units are good in general, they really aren't that useful when foot-slogging because they are slow, there is no guarantee they will actually get to shoot, and they will just generally be shot before they can do anything.

    Now, with what you just learned, how do Pyrovores - equipped with the same kind of weapon - get delivered? They are infantry, meaning they move your typical 6" a turn with perhaps a Run move - thankfully, they aren't Slow and Purposeful for no good reason like some units *cough, Mutilators, cough* I could mention. Ok, that's fine, because they are the same unit type as those Wraithguard with D-Scythes and those Sternguard Veterans with combi-flamers. They have a transport, right? Nope, Tyranids have no transports. Well....that sucks. But surely they can Deep Strike or something like that? Nope, Pyrovores are incapable of deploying in any manner outside of the regular form of deployment - in your deployment zone. So, wait, how do they reliably get close to enemy units to use their template weapons in what has proven to be - ever since its release almost two years ago - a predominantly shooting based edition? That's the question we all want to see answered because, ultimately, the rules designers never worked this one out either. Yes. Pyrovores pay an excessive amount of points - they are more expensive than Warriors which, after my earlier comparison, should come as a shock to any reading this - for a template weapon they are likely to never be able to use. They cannot get into shooting range of a gunline with any kind of protection. They have no way to get close to an enemy unit that itself does not want to be near the Pyrovores. Fire Warrior bases can just laugh at your Pyrovores, sit back at 30", keep moving back 6" a turn, and pelt them to death. It's not too outlandish, after all. Pyrovores just aren't that durable either. And no, I'm not joking. Where a Tyrannofex has its Toughness 6, 6 wounds and 2+ armour save to keep it alive to get into that 20" range for its Acid Spray, Pyrovores get....the same maligned survivability of Warriors. Concentrated fire of any source will remove them quickly, unless they are supported by Venomthropes.....but why anyone would waste Venomthropes to try and make Pyrovores work is beyond my understanding.

    So how do you make this unit work? I don't know. I honestly do not know. I don't know what the rules designers were thinking when they made the rules for this unit. I am not even sure I should be "gracing" this unit with a tactics article. Why bother? Clearly, no effort was put into this units' rules, and I frankly find it disgusting after having to endure their abominable rules throughout the entirety of 5th Edition as well. But hey, at least in the 5th Edition codex the Pyrovores could see some kind of use. Yes, as much as them having one less wound, one less attack, a lower Initiative and a slightly higher cost might have made them an even worse unit on their own, the fact they could take a....*drumroll*....transport made up for it entirely. Or at least, made them actually useful in a sense. Take a pair in a Mycetic Spore. Drop them next to a light or medium infantry unit. Toast them. Become a relatively cheap distraction unit from there on that is good at clearing out infantry by running around your opponents deployment zone with two Strength 5 AP4 templates. They were bad for the cost, but at least they could do something. They were worse than useless without that transport, but with it, they actually began to feel kind of like.....a unit. You know, an entity in a rules pamphlet that allows you to use a cool model in games. How cool is that! Using those awesome models in games and having them do something! Well....I don't even want to start down that route.

    On the face of it, Pyrovores just do not know what they want to do. They are a short-ranged disruption unit that has no choice but to foot-slog up the board, thus making them almost impossible to use in any kind of worthwhile manner. When you get right down to it, their practically namesake weapon is to blame for this problem. The stats aren't too bad once you get down to it; it's like a Warrior that isn't that good in combat and lacks Synapse. That can be fine, but you would expect such a unit to be a lot cheaper than Warriors to show how Warriors pay for those important Synapse, Shadow in the Warp and extended melee abilities. That would make sense. Heck, the Pyrovore isn't even that bad in combat, just nowhere near as good as those Warriors that they are confusingly more costly than. It has an Acid Maw special rule that allows it to make a single Strength 5 AP2 attack, kind of like a Screamer but without Armourbane. It's not too shabby, but nor is it really that good; low Weapon Skill and Initiative make it doubtful the Pyrovore can either make the attack or hit with it anyway. And these solo attacks are nowhere near as cheap as they are on Screamers who are also Jetbikes and have a useful 'slashing' attack for moving over enemy units. Their Acid Blood can trigger against low Initiative enemies, but with three wounds each, a single Pyrovore should be expected to cause at least one failed Initiative test on a Space Marine unit. It's not great or even good, but it isn't horrible.

    The problem is, the Pyrovore is given a weapon that Tyranids don't really dole out outside of expensive monstrous creatures. The idea, obviously, was to have a Tyranid unit that could deliver template weapons on the cheap, at least compared to monstrous creatures - unless you count the Strength 2 Strangleweb for Termagants that is more of a finesse weapon. It's not a bad idea, just one that was executed, well, horribly. Tyranids are based around typing up enemy infantry so that they can't shoot your own units. This is done with horde units of cheap Termagants and Hormagaunts, while monstrous creatures plod up to finish the job in subsequent turns. Now, while Tyranids are evolving more into a ranged army with the new codex, most of their units do still fulfill this role. They are a short to medium ranged army that also does well in assault, similar in a lot of ways to Grey Knights. With that said, what exactly is a Pyrovore supposed to shoot with all that tying-up units in combat going on? Think about it. You use Hormagaunts and Termagants as mobile cover for your other units, including Pyrovores who - with their 4+ armour saves and Toughness 4 - are bait for most heavy weapons. You will sit the Pyrovores behind those units so that they can survive. But wait, those units moving ahead of the Pyrovores will get into combat with other infantry units. When and what is the Pyrovore supposed to shoot? This is why transports and the Deep Strike special rule are in place for similar units to Pyrovores; they allow those units to fire their template weapons without being blocked by friendlies. Pyrovores, though? No such luck. I've already covered the fact that Pyrovores are neither fast or survivable enough to make up for this deficiency, so I won't bother repeating myself.

    I will close on this though, because frankly, I could go on and on about just how....infuriating this unit is to me. This is the grand champion of badly designed rules. This is a unit that cannot work in any meaningful sense in a game. This is a unit that was designed to do something, but can't do it and thus has no purpose in any army list that any Tyranid player could take. This is a unit that is, and I dread speak the word, useless. I don't know what else to say, I really don't. I guess the first thing is, why on earth was the Mycetic Spore not at least given a rules representation with a paid for Deep Strike upgrade for applicable units? That would have actually made Pyrovores not only usable, but worthwhile. Sure, they would still be nowhere near as useful as a Tyrannofex that performs the same job and does so much more, but they would be able to drop down and incinerate infantry units in the early stages of the game. Getting rid of Pathfinders and Dark Reapers early on is better than letting them do their dirty work for several turns, after all! But no, a unit that is pretty bad in combat, has no long ranged shooting and only a template weapon to even somewhat attempt to justify being costlier than Warriors who have all of better stats, access to upgrades, bigger potential units, better combat capabilities, better shooting, guns that can shoot more than 8", support abilities with Synapse and a nasty anti-psyker bubble - this is what we get, and we are expected to plonk them on the field and....sit there making frog noises. I'm sorry, but I absolutely cannot stand this. This isn't just a mistake or something to be forgiven, this is two editions in a row of a unit not being worthwhile, and now the introduction of a unique uselessness that I cannot gloss over. Is this fair? In Australia, I have to spend $61 Australian Dollars on one of these models. Is it enough that I ask to be given some usable rules to go along with it? Apparently not! And that's.....I'm done.

    This is intended to be more of a light-hearted take on the very poor situation of the Pyrovore, a near-extinct species that is dying out an alarmingly rapid rate. Please, please take the humorous outlook of this article to inspire you to try and help stop the decline of the Pyrovore population. We here at Imperator Guides give our thanks to all those trying to preserve the endangered Pyrovore, and hope that our little friends can finally make it somewhere in the world!

    Oh, I guess I had better address their other unique special rule, one that can potentially be hilarious for all players if you decide to take it as the rules are written. When Pyrovores are killed by Instant Death wounds, they "explode", for lack of a better term. Basically, you resolve the effects as per a vehicle explosion, with units within D6" suffering a number of hits for each model in the radius at a respectable Strength 3. At Toughness 4, this means Strength 8 wounds will kill them instantly. So, I have one thing to say. Pyrovores, that are supposed to be hiding behind your Hormagaunts and Termagants, can blow up and kill them? Well, I guess if you face a power fist, dying hurts your opponents models....I guess. Whatever. What you will be interested in is the nuclear aspect of this explosion. Yeah. This is down to poor wording of the rules, but as it is, when Pyrovores are killed by instant death weapons, they hit everything on the board. I'm not going to quote the rule because that would be illegal, but basically, every unit - no telling of which units specifically - suffers hits equivalent to the number of models within that D6" inch range. So say when a Pyrovore explodes there are six Termagants within 3", this would mean every unit on the board, rules as written, would suffer six Strength 3 AP- hits. Cool, right? Well, not really, not aside from just the sheer hilarity that the idea of "Nuclear Pyrovores" exists. Even if you want to play it that way, it won't help you as a Tyranid player. Strength 3 cannot harm vehicles of any kind. Guess which army solely lacks vehicles? Yep, Tyranids hate "Nuclear Pyrovores" more than any other army. The irony is just delicious.

    Where to Put Them

    You want Pyrovores in cover to make up for the fact that they only have a 4+ armour save with Toughness 4, making them missile pod and autocannon bait. Heck, any kind of heavy weapon is going to do a lot of damage to these guys. Of course, unlike Biovores, Pyrovores are exclusively a short ranged unit and thus won't be doing anything useful by just sitting in your deployment zone, hiding out of sight. No, they have heavy flamers that are all they really have to do damage, unless you count their lonely Acid Maw attack. These things are as slow as any Infantry model without Fleet, and don't even have Move Through Cover to speed up their cover-camping advance. So, realistically, you have to use them defensively - which doesn't really make sense, when you think about it. Keep them near some kind of valuable objective camper in your deployment zone, such as a small brood of Warriors. Alternatively, they can be used to ward off pesky infantry units that can threaten your Exocrines and Biovores up close. Deploy Biovores in terrain near this unit and keep them out of sight until they can shoot something or at least, well, block them with their bodies.

    Best Uses

    There's only one legitimate way to use Pyrovores in the new codex. Sit them behind some kind of terrain in Synapse range of a Zoanthrope so that they don't eat themselves, and near another typical backfield unit - such as Warriors that also eliminate the need for a Zoanthrope - like Biovores for them to guard. When enemies close in, jump the Pyrovores out and unleash two heavy flamers. From there, hope they get charged so that they can do some Overwatch with their heavy flamers. No, really. Did you expect anything else? I guess you can put them behind an Aegis Defence Line and man a Quad Gun with their mediocre Ballistic Skill and decent defensive abilities, but that is really about the extent of effective usage for these poor sods.

    Recommended Builds

    These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.

    Pyrovores (2) - If you are going to take Pyrovores, you should take them in pairs. One is easy First Blood for any Barrage or ignores line of sight weapon, two is a bit of a pain to remove and a nastier defensive unit without being too expensive.

    Wall of Flame

    Did you honestly expect me to write a fluff section about Pyrovores? I mean, I would like to, sure, but I honestly don't have anything to work with. Yeah, they get one tiny little paragraph to explain their odd physical traits. No mystery, no important battles, no reference to what species they originally appeared against or were developed to fight. What is there to write about that wouldn't just be some kind of reprint of what you get in the codex? Well, as you know, Warhammer 40000 is a "beer and pretzels" game that should be played to heavy metal music of some kind. If I'm going to give Pyrovores their due, I have to do it in the correct manner. So, without further ado, I give you; Pyrovores.

    "Sarge, what's that big frog thing walking towards us!"
    "What the hell kind of crap are you talking about, Copley?"
    "There, over there! In that hazy smoke! I think it's some kind of warning!"
    "Smoke is never a warning, idiot, dark portents come in storms!"
    "Well, what do we do about the damned frog with a....a...."
    "Is that a gun on its back?"
    "A....uh.....yes Sarge!"
    "I thought the bugs were smarter than that! Why have a gun on its back that points straight upwards, it can barely shoot anything around it, let alone in front of it!"
    "Maybe it thinks we're aircraft sir! Should we shoot it!"
    "Well, it does smell like one of the bunker bathrooms...."
    *intake of breath*
    "It's spitting pus! It's spitting green pus!"
    "I SAID FIRE!"
    "One sec, Sarge, I think I want to give it a pat!"
    "What's it going to do, bleed on me?"
    "Why can't they conscript warriors that know how to follow orders? Apparently telling them is half the battle!"
    "Dang it all Sarge, it's not like it is going to start shooting fire at....uh.....AAAAAAAHHHHH!"
    "I'll be damned. Fall back, squad, fall back!"
    "But sir, what about the fire frog?"
    "Ignore it! It is slow and probably stupid too! Run!"
    *grunting and panting*
    "Are we away, yet?"
    "I still smell a toilet, Guardsman. Back in line."
    "Hey Sarge, ever heard of that thing before?"
    "No, and we shoul..."
    "Maybe we should name it! All those other garrisons get to, so why can't we?"
    "Sarge, we're all going to die anyway. We're in the Imperial Guard, Emperor be praised. We're paid to do that."
    "I'm thinking the Fire Frog. Yeah, that sounds nice."
    "What kind of a name is that?"
    "No really, Sarge. Fire Frog! Kind of catchy no? They can market that everywhere!"
    "Just think about it for a sec! Fire Frog....brought to you by..."
    "That's a stupid name! You may as well just call it a....a....Pyrovore, or something else just as stupid. Hell, those Cadian dogs got away with calling that gun thing a Tyrannofex. Who honestly cares? It is just a name!"
    "But I liked Fire Frog...."
    "Well you can go and give your nice little Fire Frog a kiss, because it's still....uh....chasing us."
    "Oh no, should we shoot it?"
    "I guess. Or do you want to try and give it a hug like Copley?"
    "Poor Fire Frog."
    "Who cares!? FIRE!"
    *repeated blasts*
    "It's dead."
    "Are you sure?"
    "Uh, Sarge, it's glowing."
    "Oh yeah, what's that all about?"
    "I don't know, it is your Pyrovore after all."
    "Fire Frog! No....Pyro....Ah, just shut up Guardsman!"
    "Ummm, hate to disturb you two, but this thing is glowing something really bright."
    "Oh to the pits with you, it is probably just a...."

    The Last Words of Squad Stupidious, Vaporised by a Nuclear Blast caused by an Unknown Tyranid Organism - Field Reports label this beast as a "Pyrovore"

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 02-19-2014 at 04:15 AM.
    Check out my blog!

  2. #22


    Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! Shrikes are, literally, flying Warriors that trade durability for mobility in what proves to be a more interesting unit than their walking kin. Though they are still without an official model from Games Workshop, requiring both the basic Warrior models and conversion packs from Forge World, Shrikes are nonetheless an option to consider for many a Tyranid general. This is because they are one of the quickest Synapse units, able to easily keep up with Hormagaunts, Gargoyles and - to a lesser extent - Harpies and Crones. I hope you enjoy this article!

    Tyranid Shrikes


    The comparisons between Shrikes and Warriors are probably justified, though I do feel they are a bit unfair. Both units were made to fit different roles in the army, even if both roles are mechanically identical. They belong in different kinds of lists, and as such you should always think about which one fits your list better rather than which one is better as a stand-alone unit. But first, let's have a look at what makes Shrikes tick. The first obvious similarity to Warriors comes in their stats with there being only one exception to what would otherwise be identical. Shrikes are Strength and Toughness 4 with three wounds a piece, making them as tough as a Space Marine that can take their 3+ armour save even if the Shrikes themselves cannot. They are not immune to instant death, of course, and their Toughness 4 makes them prone to such an effect from Strength 8 and higher weapons. This unfortunately ties directly into the incredible firepower of a Riptide armed with an Ion Accelerator and buffed with supporting markerlights or a Tau Commander, a unit that is so common as to be something you should prepare for in almost any game. This aside, Warriors do have some pretty good stats. Three Strength 4 attacks each before melee weapons and other upgrades are taken into account is more than decent, especially with Weapon Skill 5 and an average Initiative 4 to back them up. While they do lack assault grenades to fully capitalize on being swifter than Ork and Necron assault units, they can purchase Flesh Hooks to make up for this deficiency while providing a light ranged attack.

    They are a decent but uninspiring ranged unit, with Ballistic Skill 3 and a standard three-shot weapon at Strength 4 and AP- being mediocre at best. Three shots per model might sound high, but not when you consider that two Tactical Marines for the cost of a single Shrike put out an extra shot at a mere 6" less range when rapid-firing, and can shoot two shots at 24" rather than being capped at 18". When you consider their high cost per model and fragility, as well as the high expense of most upgrades, Shrikes - and Warriors - are not very efficient in terms of damage output. Like any Tyranid unit, you want them to join up with other friendly assault units if you really need to be rid of a given enemy squad. This is where their support abilities serve to make them more valuable than they would initially appear. Each Shrike not only has three wounds per model, good stats and decent damage output, but they also act as Synapse generators that prevent your other forces from collapsing as a result of Instinctive Behaviour. The new Instinctive Behaviour charts are even more of a penalty than ever, with one result leading to a unit destroying itself and another to a unit fleeing out of the blue. These are actions that go beyond a Tyranid players' control, ones that take the element of choice and tactics away from them and serve as harsh punishments for failing to keep your Synapse units alive and in range of those units that require control. This is the role of Shrikes, identical mechanically to Warriors; they are generalists that are unimpressive alone, but are made inherently worthwhile by the weaknesses of the rest of the army, downfalls that they can negate entirely.

    But the mechanical similarity of role actually proves to be very distinct in practice. There are four noticeable differences between Shrikes and Warriors, with three of them proving to be major in all or most scenarios. Firstly, Shrikes have a weaker armour save than Warriors, trading a 4+ armour save for an inferior 5+ armour save. Shrikes are thus significantly less survivable against most small arms fire, suffering wounds automatically - assuming no cover - from AP5 weapons, as opposed to having a 50% chance to save each wound. Considering that Tau Fire Warriors, Eldar Guardians, Dark Eldar Kabalite Warriors, Space Marines of all kinds, Necron Warriors, Adepta Sororitas Battle Sisters, Chaos Daemon Pink Horrors and even Tyranid Termagants all carry AP5 or better weapons as stock, this means that Shrikes are incredibly vulnerable to the most basic shooting of all but two armies in the game. This means that they are significantly less survivable than Warriors, and are thus almost entirely reliant on cover - whether through intervening Gargoyles or terrain - to survive. While Warriors do need to attain cover saves to avoid the ranged attacks that can and will kill them instantly, they suffer no such limitation against small arms fire - except in the case of Eldar Bladestorm shooting and Pink Horrors with Flickering Fire. The main trade-off here is that Shrikes have double the mobility of Warriors effectively, changing their unit type from regular Infantry to Jump Infantry. While Warriors can survive a significant amount of small arms fire when compared to Shrikes, they will take roughly twice the length of time to actually reach a given position. With Tyranids having easily accessed cover saves through cheap horde units and the large amount of terrain that should be inherent to every 6th Edition gaming table, this serves to make Shrikes the more ideal assault unit of the two. Warriors are more naturally suited as a long range unit supporting other elements with a long range, while Shrikes are better for medium ranged shooting as their 18" gun range does not become a penalty once their 12" move is factored in, giving them the rough equivalent threat range of foot-slogging units wielding weapons with a 24" range.

    The third major difference comes with the Force Organization slot each unit occupies, and what benefits it gives to one unit in particular. Warriors are a Troops choice, meaning that not only can they fulfill the mandatory two Troops slots that each Warhammer 40000 army must fill - excepting Imperial Knights - but they are also a scoring unit. Warriors can fulfill your Troop "tax" similarly to how Warhammer Fantasy armies are built with a minimum Core requirement, meaning that their actual cost is almost a non-issue. Shrikes, on the other hand, cannot be a Troops choice and thus their similar cost is actually felt rather than taken in stride. The main difference here, however, is that Shrikes are only a scoring unit in one out five possible missions featuring objectives, whereas Warriors are scoring in each of those five scenarios. Warriors can capture objectives which are pivotal to winning a game; Shrikes can only deny objectives. This means that Warriors make ideal objective sitters, protecting an objective and ensuring you get any applicable victory points. Shrikes are instead an objective taking unit, one that uses their mobility and high threat range to focus down enemy scoring units and prevent them from capturing the objectives closest or inside their deployment zone.

    The fourth difference, albeit a minor one, is that Shrikes pay slightly less for Adrenal Glands than Warriors do. The reasoning for this is that Shrikes can get half the benefit of Fleet if they don't use their jump infantry movement in the movement phase, electing instead to gain a re-roll to their random charge length in the assault phase. Of course, by being a jump infantry unit, Shrikes naturally get more benefit out of Adrenal Glands anyway as they are far more likely to actually make it to an assault through mobility alone. Moving 12" and still getting a re-roll to their charge range makes Shrikes strikingly similar to Raveners in terms of sheer swiftness, while gaining Strength 5 attacks on the charge is always a welcome bonus. While it isn't too large a difference, it does add up with the other three changes to lead to a unit that goes about the same role as Warriors using unique methods. As Warriors move forward into the midfield or stay back with the walking units, Shrikes are more suited to striking at the enemy directly in their territory in conjunction with other flying units. Both are built as a Synapse unit first and a damaging unit second, but they go about it entirely distinctly. This is why I advocate Shrikes in one kind of list - a highly aggressive list - and Warriors in another kind of list - a medium to long ranged gun-line hybrid list. Both have their uses, even if Shrikes are far more vulnerable against more common forms of shooting, and as such I don't see the purpose in trying to work out which unit is stronger than the other in general. It is a pointless debate as either unit can work better in any given list depending on its make-up.

    How to Equip Them

    Shrikes are identical to Warriors in terms of available options, though they pay slightly less for one of the upgrades. They can exchange their Devourers for Spinefists with no cost, an upgrade that I would consider even more on Shrikes than for Warriors. The 12" range and lower Strength hurt, but the addition of an AP value (five) and twin-linking make it something of an even trade. For a jump infantry unit, the shorter range isn't that much of an issue either, actually. Whether you decide to stick with devourers or take the spinefists as such should come down to preference more than anything else. The devourers can also be replaced with deathspitters as a paid upgrade, gaining an extra Strength and that AP5. These are definitely an upgrade over the devourers and are one of the few options I would take on Shrikes; if you are going to deathspitters though, don't take any melee upgrades on the same model. Spread the upgrades around to reduce the cost of a unit as well as making each Shrike in the squad a target. Shrikes can also take a single barbed strangler or venom cannon regardless of their squad size, a cheap weapon upgrade that you really have no reason not to take. I prefer the barbed strangler with devourers and spinefists to focus the unit on harassing infantry, with the venom cannon better paired up with deathspitters to put out lots of medium Strength shooting that is a legitimate threat to light vehicles.

    The more melee oriented options are definitely more interesting for the much faster Shrikes than they are for Warriors, but they still ultimately come up lacking. The reason for this is that while Shrikes are more mobile than Warriors, they are even more fragile while remaining inefficient in terms of damage output for the points spent. For this reason, I tend to put any points spent on upgrades towards bio-cannons or deathspitters simply because they tend to pay higher dividends. While Shrikes will survive longest in combat, they don't need the extra damage output to stay there and there are always units Shrikes won't be able to charge - or won't want to. There are more mobile units than Shrikes, or units with short ranged weapons like flamers and meltas, that the Shrikes will typically be unable to charge without great cost. With that said, I've found the boneswords and lash whip and bonesword combination to be unnecessary for the unit. Both are very expensive and will only really serve to increase the odds of Shrikes slaughtering units of Space Marines and other infantry in a single round of combat, something that is almost always a bad thing. Assuming Shrikes charge, they will want to spend two close combat phases locked up in a melee so that they don't get shot in the opponents' turn. Shrikes are already a pretty decent melee unit with four attacks each on the charge assuming they keep their ranged weapon, not to mention that the AP3 of these weapons won't really help against true dedicated combat units with 2+ saves or invulnerable saves anyway. Besides, to make use of a lashwhip and bonesword combo effectively, each Shrike equipped with them would also have to take Flesh Hooks so as to be striking at Initiative when charging through cover. Those two upgrades for just one Shrike are almost equivalent to the cost of a second stock Shrike, and in almost all cases that extra Shrike is better to give the unit both more survivability and more presence with Synapse. I tend to avoid melee upgrades on Shrikes despite them being naturally more suited to an offensive role than Warriors - especially when their mobile Synapse capabilities are considered for units like Gargoyles - because they are still very fragile, but some of them are worthwhile.

    Rending Claws on about a third of the models in a unit is a very decent usage of points, allowing the unit the capability to damage AV11 and higher vehicles, as well as getting a few AP2 wounds as necessary. While I don't advocate ever charging Shrikes into Terminator equivalents, adding those potential wounds can still mean the difference between a unit being flattened totally by a Dreadknight and one that actually weakens it somewhat for Tyranid shooting to finish it off. Shrikes, interestingly, get Adrenal Glands for a point less per model than Warriors despite actually getting greater benefits out of it. I understand that as jump infantry they can re-roll their charge distances if they don't use their jump packs in the preceding movement phase, but they are still effectively twice as fast as Warriors. Being able to move 12" and then re-roll their charge distance or run distance is of higher value here than it is as a costlier upgrade to Warriors. Strength 5 attacks on the charge is also very handy, and so I am a big proponent of Adrenal Glands for Shrikes. Toxin Sacs, again, are the better combat upgrade though, but I am still of the opinion that Adrenal Glands are a better fit because of Fleet. Where other units - like the Haruspex - need every bit of extra speed, Shrikes don't need it so much and as such I would consider Toxin Sacs for them more than most other units. That they are also far more likely to get into combat and make use of Toxin Sacs is a plus, obviously. The last available upgrade for Shrikes are Flesh Hooks, giving Shrikes an extra little shooting attack that is far inferior to any of their other ranged options. The big draw here is the assault grenades which are pivotal for any real assault unit worth their weight in points, though I'm not sure Shrikes really need it. I don't consider them an elite melee unit and they really should be bullying units that would struggle against them anyway, whether they strike at Initiative 1 or 4. They're necessary for melee-oriented Shrikes, but the cost of them plus weapon options will add up very quickly - unless of course you swap the devourer for scything talons. I don't recommend this as having guns on any unit can make a big difference - good luck catching Jetbikes, fast skimmers and flying monstrous creatures without guns! - and the extra melee attack isn't nearly as valuable as, for example, three equivalent ranged attacks.

    Where to Put Them

    Shrikes are rather reliant on the usage of Gargoyles to survive in such a shooting dominated meta, mostly because charging through or into cover can be a big issue for them. While three wound models shouldn't worry too much about dangerous terrain tests, with only a 5+ armour save those extra unsaved wounds can really start to add up. And besides, unless you are paying for Flesh Hooks or have widely available terrain to cover your advance, Shrikes are going to be relying on saves provided by intervening models. Gargoyles do this better than any other unit with a height comparable to a Shrike and their identical mobility. This is why even if you are on a terrain-heavy board, I still recommend taking at least one brood of Gargoyles to protect a Shrike brood - besides, the Gargoyles can actively tarpit a Wraithknight or Dreadknight, units that Shrikes fear above all else. This is a similar principle to using Hormagaunts or Termagants to bubble wrap Warriors, though with the Shrikes actually being able to outpace more units. If you are faced with barrage weapons, be sure to spread the Shrikes out with the 2" maximum unit coherency spacing and jump them from cover to cover - a single Basilisk shot that scores a direct hit on a Shrike unit outside of terrain can reduce a full unit to nothing but a bloody mess. If you can avoid going through terrain and attain cover saves through the use of Gargoyles - who themselves are cheap and expendable enough to not worry too much about going through cover - then that would be my recommendation, as Shrikes don't want to be losing wounds unnecessarily, nor do they want to strike last when charging enemy units.

    Best Uses

    Shrikes are, obviously, very similar to Warriors in a lot of respects. Aside from a few key facets, the units are essentially identical. But where Warriors are ideally placed in the backfield as a cheap scoring Synapse unit, Shrikes are definitely your midfield aggressors and Synapse beacons. This is because Shrikes exchange a 4+ armour save for jump infantry classification, a change that - as well as being unable to score in five out of six missions - narrows them into being a more aggressive unit. If you want Shrikes that sit back and protect your medium to long ranged units, such as Exocrines and Biovores, you may as well just employ Warriors who are tougher and can score in every mission where objectives are used. Why waste the advantages of a unit to try and shoe-horn them into a role that another unit performs better in? This is why I see the main usage of Shrikes to be as a mobile Synapse unit in the same vein as a flying Hive Tyrant, providing that pivotal element of control to your Gargoyles, Raveners, Harpies and Crones. If you are using a highly mobile and aggressive force, Shrikes are the logical fit as additional Synapse units to play off of your HQ choices. Unlike Trygon Primes who are more reliant on Deep Striking in the enemy backfield and providing Synapse to units in about the turn three onwards range, Shrikes are there from the start moving up the field with your other units. They can keep the swarm in check even if your flying Hive Tyrants are killed, something that Trygon Primes can't do nearly as well if your force is mostly composed of jump infantry and beasts - or even Hormagaunts. There's no real reason to take Shrikes if you don't want them to fulfill this kind of role in a highly aggressive list, as Warriors and Zoanthropes are more than serviceable enough in the job for slower, more cautious lists. While I do prefer the latter kind of army list nowadays, the former does have its place and this is where Shrikes belong. Keep them cheap with devourers, some rending claws and a barbed strangler or venom cannon, and move them in support of your Gargoyles and Crones. Put light ranged pressure on units you wish to focus down and try to set up combo-charges with your other units, as even stock Shrikes are very nasty on the charge.

    Recommended Builds

    These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.

    Shrikes (6) - two Rending Claws, Barbed Strangler - This is a meaty unit intended for infantry hunting primarily, one that is large enough to be a large threat to your opponent if left unchecked, but also not too large to draw too much attention away from your monstrous creatures. This unit causes Pinning checks and has a few Rending Claws as "just in case" cheap weapon options for vehicles mostly.

    Shrikes (5) - four Deathspitters, Venom Cannon - This is what I like to call the "Trygon broodlings" unit. Twelve Strength 5 shots at 18" and one Strength 6 small blast at 36" provides a pretty decent fire-base for the cost with a 30" effective range on the Deathspitters. Add on above average melee capabilities with four Strength 4 attacks at Weapon Skill 5 per model on the charge, and this is one of my favourite all-rounder builds for Shrikes. It can threaten most things at range decently, like a Trygon, and can mulch through regular infantry, again, like a Trygon. While the Trygon obviously has a lot of advantages and is only slightly more expensive, the Shrikes have the advantage of not taking up an incredibly contested Heavy Support slot.

    Aerial Commanders

    As Warriors act as synaptic links for the many hordes comprising the ground invasion force, their winged brethren take to the skies to spread the will of the Hive Mind to the aerial Tyranid organisms. Proving just how adaptable the Warrior genus is in particular, Shrikes trade extended armour plating for wings and increased responseiveness, able to traverse all manner of terrain to reach the enemy. As the elite among the Tyranid forces, Shrikes are deadly combatants that use their supreme swiftness and strength to overwhelm the foe, or remaining behind their ravening lessers and acting as unseen manipulators.

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 02-23-2014 at 07:21 PM.
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  3. #23


    Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! Raveners are snake-like predators that are created with ambush and disruption in mind, a role that doesn't really translate well to the table top. They are capable of Deep Striking as well as having innately high mobility, but their actual abilities are otherwise suited for a straight combat unit, one that isn't as effective as one would want. I hope you enjoy this article!



    Much like Shrikes are compared against Warriors, so too do Raveners find themselves competing with Shrikes. Unlike the former comparison though, the latter has proper justification as both units fulfill rather similar roles and even occupy the same slot. While Shrikes are more the generalist unit, Raveners are often built for such a purpose and gain superior standard combat prowess and special rules in exchange for ranged weapons and Synapse. Before I touch on that more, though, I want to discuss what makes Raveners tick. First up, the profile. Strength and Toughness 4 with three wounds a model makes them unsurprisingly analogous to Warriors, especially once one compares the visual style of each model, though Raveners have a 5+ armour save more in keeping with Shrikes than Warriors. I've already covered the relative survivability of a Shrike and as Raveners share the same exact defensive stats, I won't bother repeating myself to that extent. I will say however that Raveners are not only afraid of missile launchers and Ion Accelerators, like Warriors, but also cannot take that much punishment from small arms fire when out of cover, like Shrikes, forcing them to stick to terrain at all times. But where Shrikes can get hurt by dangerous terrain tests, Raveners suffer no such penalties as they are Beasts instead of Jump Infantry. But what traits does a Beast have to differ from Jump Infantry? Well, Beasts always have Fleet instead of having to halve their movement to get the same effect for charging, while they even have Move Through Cover despite never being slowed by terrain. This is for Deep Striking Raveners specifically who can pop up in terrain, benefit from a near necessary cover save and not have to take Dangerous Terrain tests. Essentially, Beasts have a lot of advantages over Jump Infantry while sharing the same 12" move.

    From here, Raveners continue the similarities to Shrikes with an identical Weapon Skill 5 and Ballistic Skill 3 making them good melee fighters and mediocre shooters. Each model has three attacks on their profile plus two combat weapons that can be combined with a gun - unlike Shrikes who can have one gun and one combat arm or two combat arms - giving them four attacks each, for five per model on the charge. With a higher Initiative 5 than the Shrikes' Initiative 4, this actually serves to make Raveners a better close combat unit for the most part unless a player over-spends on upgrades for the Shrikes. They can mash through most units that aren't dedicated melee units, monstrous creatures or vehicles, and they also pull off assaults much quicker. Shrikes need to purchase Adrenal Glands to be as quick as Raveners for movement and charging, an upgrade that isn't exactly cheap. Raveners can be given guns for small or large points costs, but they are generally very weak shooters with their damage output remaining inferior per model to the rough equivalent points cost in Tactical Marines. Where Raveners really start to diverge from Shrikes is that they are Leadership 6 units that suffer from Instinctive Behaviour. Now, this wouldn't be too much of an issue if it was Hunt or even Lurk, but Raveners suffer from the Feed behaviour. The reason I say I prefer Hunt and Lurk is because the worst results of those two are pretty easily mitigated. Hunt has them getting Pinned, essentially, which means all you have to do is move a Synapse creature within range of them and they get back up immediately and can move as normal. Lurk has them Falling Back, but as they Fall Back to their own table edge, this means they would thus be retreating to your midfield or backfield Synapse units anyway. Feed will see them attacking each other immediately before a Synapse unit can be moved to help them, and while the worst you will see is one Ravener dying, that is still an expensive model you need for tanking wounds against shooting flat out dying with no say on your part. Yes, you can move a Synapse unit in range of them to stop the effect like with Hunt, but by then the damage will have already been done.

    So overall, Raveners are a bit iffy for their cost. They are fragile, their damage output in melee is great but their shooting capabilities are below par and there is a good chance they won't reach combat in the first place despite being one of the fastest ground units in the game. If it weren't for Ignores Cover becoming so darn prominent in 6th Edition with Tau, Eldar, Space Marines, Daemons - who just charge you instead - with their Skull Cannons, Imperial Guard Artillery and so on, it wouldn't be as much of an issue. But combine all that with an Instinctive Behaviour result that will make the unit completely redundant half the time and you have a unit with diminishing returns the more you take of them. Ultimately though, they aren't a bad unit, just one that is one of many Tyranid glass cannon equivalents. But where the issues arise are when one compares them to Shrikes. Again, I don't really like comparing units, but in this case it is somewhat justified. Raveners can't operate independently for risk of flailing about doing nothing due to Instinctive Behaviour, and Leadership 6 does them no favours. Raveners are a quicker assault unit than Shrikes, but as Shrikes can actually take assault grenades, this advantage is mitigated - particularly the Raveners' Initiative 5.

    Raveners can take guns alongside their combat weapons, preserving an extra attack, but Shrikes get those expensive guns (on Raveners) for free, effectively losing a close combat Strength 4 attack but gaining three Strength 4 attacks at 18" with no additional cost. They also get cheap Deathspitters and free Spinefists, making them a superior ranged unit and one that doesn't pay for combat oriented abilities straight up. The thing to remember is that Raveners are the same cost as Shrikes because they have Fleet, because they completely ignore terrain for movement and because they have Initiative 5. As it is, Shrikes don't have these options included in their basic cost and are thus more tailorable as a result. You can build Shrikes for shooting and not feel like you are wasting their abilities, unlike Raveners that lose out on Synapse and Shadow in the Warp just so they have an easier time of making it to combat. Shrikes can perform the same Deep Strike disruption tactics as Raveners, albeit cheaper and better as they don't pay for the same guns Raveners do and have Synapse to boot so they can function independently. In the old codex, this balance was struck by having Shrikes at a slightly higher cost per model than Raveners. Now, at the same cost per model with Shrikes dropping to the Raveners' price, I feel that Raveners have decreased in value by a large degree, especially as Synapse is even more valuable in the 6th Edition codex than it was in the 5th Edition codex. That Shrikes have a lot more options available to them for you to kit them out to your needs is almost the last straw, and brings me close to saying "Shrikes over Raveners". I feel that if Synapse was going to be made more important and Shrikes dropped in points, Raveners really should have as well. I mean, aside from being a faster combat unit that is slightly more effective against certain enemies, what do Raveners really have over Shrikes? What do they have that could possibly replace a 12" moving Synapse generator? This is one of the bigger missteps with this codex and something I hope is addressed in the next iteration. As it is, Raveners are fine as a unit, but the codex seems to want you to avoid them in favour of Shrikes which I feel is a really disappointing outcome.

    How to Equip Them

    Where Shrikes get the choice of a free Devourer or extra Scything Talon, Raveners begin with the latter but must pay a small price to upgrade to the former. But where Shrikes can only take one or the other, Raveners uniquely get both with their thorax-mounted weaponry in addition to two close combat themed pairs of arms. With innate Deep Strike despite being Beasts and ignoring Dangerous Terrain tests of all kinds due to their unit type conferring Move Through Cover, Raveners make for neat little ranged disruption units while being primarily assault oriented. Unfortunately, Raveners are quite expensive for what they do and compare rather ill favourably to Shrikes, sharing their fragility even against small arms fire but lacking the independent capabilities. In the old codex, Raveners could be used as incredibly fast distraction units to rush enemy Devastator and Pathfinder equivalents due Instinctive Behaviour having no real draw back for them. Now, however, with a 50% chance to stop performing any action whatsoever for a game turn, Raveners cannot afford to be out of Synapse range and thus demand support from Shrikes or Flying Hive Tyrants, the only Synapse creatures that can reliably keep up with them. When one factors all this in, Raveners become a very expensive proposition and one with diminishing returns the more upgrades you slap on them.

    I feel the trick to Raveners is to leave the guns at home simply because they add to a units cost very quickly and won't really do much damage anyway - losing an attack also reduces the value of Spinefists from the previous incarnation - while the Raveners really need to be in combat to survive as it is. Toughness 4 and a 5+ armour save won't get them anywhere fast, even with three wounds per model. Just abuse their 12" move and Move Through Cover with Fleet re-rolls to Run and Random Charge Length distances to get into combat as quickly as possible. If you feel a gun is in order though, I do recommend the Spinefist as the twin-linking on a Ballistic Skill 3 unit and AP5 is better than just three straight Strength 4 shots. There's no point to taking a higher Strength gun if it will miss half the time. Where Shrikes can get away with sitting at range, Raveners have to pay to get those useful guns and are less effective a ranged unit because of it. Besides, Raveners are more naturally suited to combat anyway with Initiative 5, five attacks per model on the charge regardless of whether a ranged weapon is taken and innate Fleet. I just feel that the unique traits of Raveners compared to Shrikes naturally favours an assault approach rather than a ranged approach. Unfortunately, with no assault grenades and mostly short-ranged Synapse, pulling off an assault with these guys is incredibly difficult especially once Overwatch is factored in. It leaves them in a tight spot, but ultimately I'm just not a fan of paying those points per model to get 18" Devourers or the 12" Spinefists - the latter may as well just have you charging instead!

    Avoid the Deathspitters at all costs, you don't ever want to be paying Terminator prices for Raveners. Besides, if you really want a ranged weapon, the Devourer will do the job just fine for half the points cost. Deathspitters - and Devourers by extension - are there for foot-slogging Raveners, but at that point, why not just keep using your re-rollable Run move? Spinefists with a 12" range are better for Deep Striking purposes as they are cheaper and the shorter range won't make a difference for the most part when arriving from reserves. Rending Claws are a useful upgrade as always, especially as Raveners still get the benefit of an extra attack due to the second set of Scything Talons they always have. Five Rending attacks per model on the charge, six if they succumb to Rage and don't eat each other, is pretty darn nasty after all. I recommend taking more than the one in three for Warriors and Shrikes though as Raveners are probably more likely to be in combat, and as they lack support abilities, you may as well make the most of their attributes.

    Where to Put Them

    This is a tricky one as there are merits to either Deep Striking or running up the field. Deep Striking of course relies on luck, mandates Spinefists as an upgrade at the very least and always runs the risk of those expensive Ravener models not arriving when you need them to. On the other hand, slogging it up the field will see much more firepower directed at the fragile Raveners, and there is little guarantee of them even getting close enough to an opponent to shoot, let alone charge. I recommend doing it based on how you built your Raveners. Spinefists? Deep Strike them and target smaller, more fragile infantry units and act purely as a cheap distraction. Devourers? You can probably get away with advancing behind or near a fast Synapse node such as a flying Hive Tyrant; use Gargoyles as cover if necessary. If the Raveners are faced with overwhelming firepower, it might be prudent to be more aggressive than usual. The ridiculous speed of Raveners - and assuming there is suitable line of sight blocking terrain - should see turn two or three charges at the absolute latest, with the former being more the norm. If you can manage to hide the Raveners from most firepower while advancing, that is the way to go, even if it means sacrificing a turn in combat. Raveners are pitifully easy to kill for any kind of army list, so don't throw your opponent a bone unnecessarily or you will find yourself in the red early on.

    Keep to cover; with Move Through Cover and Fleet, there is literally no reason for Raveners to ever be outside of terrain, especially with that puny 5+ armour save. Even Shrikes who don't ignore Dangerous Terrain should still be in cover, so don't give your opponents' Whirlwind Scorpius free First Blood because those long poppy trees don't seem inviting enough. Raveners can mash most enemy units in combat pretty easily as long as they don't suffer too many casualties from shooting; their high stats and plentiful attacks with potential Rending - if you took the cheap Rending Claws upgrade - allow them to slaughter light to medium infantry pretty capably. Avoid dedicated melee units that will typically pack power weapons or lots of attacks, as either is death to Raveners with their Toughness 4 and 5+ armour save. Always be in Synapse range, usually from Shrikes or a flying Hive Tyrant due to the Raveners' sheer mobility, as you can't afford to risk them standing around eating each other. A deep striking Trygon Prime is also a good option as it should usually pop up near the same units Raveners can bully. The only exception to the "stick to Synapse" rule would be if the Red Terror is leading the unit, in which case its high Leadership 8 does significantly reduce the chances of a failed Instinctive Behaviour test. I would only ever risk this once in a game in that tricky spot when the Raveners are likely to be out of Synapse range on the second or third turn as they prepare a charge in the assault phase, as Leadership 8 is just barely above the average roll on 2D6.

    Best Uses

    When adding up the low survivability of Raveners and their very impressive combat prowess, I'm led to the conclusion that they should operate in medium sized broods. Ideally, a close combat unit wants to stick in combat for two players turns - including the turn they charged in - with the same unit so that they break free from the enemy in their turn and are free to charge another unit without getting shot at. For Raveners in particular, this is almost a mandatory tactic but one that is surprisingly difficult to pull off. The problem lies in the fact that three-strong Ravener broods - unless they are Deep Striking - will be ousted in one turn against any decent shooting army if they have nowhere to hide, so you really need those extra bodies. However, with each Ravener having five Strength 4 attacks at Weapon Skill 5 on the charge, they are prone to wiping out a large number of units in the first round of combat.

    Against a team of 12 Fire Warriors for example, factoring in Overwatch, a brood of six Raveners will be cut down to five - even with no proper shooting accounted for. From there, assuming the Raveners did not charge through or into terrain, they will strike first with a whopping 25 Strength 4 attacks hitting on 3s, wounding on 3s and forcing a 4+ armour save. If we round up each number, that is 9 misses, 5 failed wounds for a total of 11 wounds inflicted, leading to about 6 failed armour saves. The Fire Warriors hit back with 6 attacks, hitting on 5s and wounding on 5s, leading to two hits and maybe one unsaved wound total. Just like that, the Fire Warriors have lost by five or six and, on base Leadership 7, are incredibly likely to run away unless affected by the Stubborn bubble of an Ethereal - which would be counter-intuitive for the Tau player in this situation. Against a ten-strong Space Marine Tactical Squad, a similar result occurs, though we will throw in Rending Claws on each Ravener to make up the sizable points difference between the two test subject squads. We get Overwatch, and that sixth Ravener survives due to Strength 4 and not Strength 5 shooting directed at it. From there, again assuming no terrain in the charge, the Raveners strike first with 30 attacks this time, hitting on 3s and wounding on 4s with 6s leading to Rending wounds. This is about 20 hits, 10 wounds - roughly three of which are Rending - for seven armour saves on a 3+. That should be about two failed, for five dead Tactical Marines. The other five strike back with five attacks - assuming no Veteran Sergeant - for three hits, one or two wounds for a dead Ravener. Bam, the Tacticals lose by 4 or 3, reducing them to Leadership 4 or 5 respectively. Another combat where the Space Marines are likely to flee, but unlike the Fire Warriors which the Raveners could at least wipe out through Sweeping Advance, the Tacticals with And They Shall Know No Fear will automatically regroup and proceed to blast the Raveners to bits even without friendly support.

    Granted, these combats are against painfully mediocre or sub-par units in close combat, but these are the basic Troops of enemy armies, the kind of units Raveners are designed to punish - much like how Assault Squads are really built for hunting scoring units. Raveners don't have the survivability or stats to really take on most dedicated combat units without getting annihilated in turn, and the cost of upgrading each Ravener to have Rending Claws alone is expensive enough as it is. But you absolutely can't afford to take just three Raveners as they are too darn easy to kill. It's a hard balance to strike, and one that I think leads me to prefer Deep Striking units. Yes, Interceptor shooting can murder them, but at least it can force the shooting unit to focus on a cheap ~100 point units instead of your more valuable Synapse units and Troops. Three with Spinefists put out 9 twin-linked Strength 3 shots when they arrive, enough to be a nuisance against your typical Pathfinder unit and kill a few. From there, your opponent can either go for the cheap Ravener unit and not your Synapse lynchpins, or they can ignore them - or put light resistance against them - and watch as that small Ravener unit carves up light infantry squads with ease. Ultimately, this is the use of Raveners I feel makes the most sense; the 12" range of Spinefists is equivalent to their possible Deep Strike scatter, and the shooting is light enough that you won't worry too much if they can't fire when they arrive. A small unit is still very capable of tearing through medium sized typical scoring units, while they can tie up all manner of enemies for at least a few turns - once they are in combat, they probably won't be losing it and thus won't even be bothered by a lack of Synapse. But that's just the problem, isn't it? This plan can be ruined if you don't manage to get a Synapse unit near them the turn after they arrive, as Instinctive Behaviour on Leadership 6 will likely see them gaining the Stupidity special rule - oh, wrong game! At that point, as it would be turn three minimum when this would occur, your flying Hive Tyrants and Trygon Primes - if any - should be nearby at this point. Of course, it would be awesome if they could be left to their own devices, but ah well.

    Recommended Builds

    These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.

    Raveners (5) - Devourers - This is a decently costed unit that pops in at under 200 points, can tear units apart in combat and offers some decent shooting. This is your typical "well rounded" Ravener unit that can be used to ground flying monstrous creatures and generally just be a nuisance. Usually, you will lose at least two Raveners before they make it to combat, and only three Raveners should shouldn't be wiping enemy units in one turn.

    Raveners (3) w/ Spinefists - This is your cheap little annoyance unit that Deep Strikes and clocks in at one point under 100. They shoot light infantry and cause a bit of a stir by forcing opponents to deal with them and are surprisingly cheap to boot. If they survive, they can attempt to charge a unit and should do very well for themselves with five Strength 4 attacks per model. Instinctive Behaviour is an issue, but by turn three there is a good chance your other Synapse units will be nearby anyway.

    The Red Terror

    It has been far too long since this glorious little snake abomination has graced our codex, and while not a spectacularly triumphant return as we all hoped for, the Red Terror is still a very decent unit. The first thing to notice is that despite being an upgrade to a single Ravener unit, the Red Terror comes off as a discount Tyranid Prime. The stats are surprisingly similar, the Red Terror is superior in terms of close combat capabilities unless the Prime spends a huge amount of points on upgrades, and the lack of Synapse for the unique Ravener is made up by a significantly lower cost. Besides, the Ravener is twice as fast as a Prime and has access to Deep Strike, two options a Prime apparently couldn't be bothered trying to evolve. In any case, the Ravener is a rather costly upgrade to one Ravener brood in your army with its points cost just shy of three basic Raveners. Like any discussion of a character that is designed for damage output rather than support abilities, you are probably asking - why not just take the three Raveners instead? It is a valid criticism and one that I don't think the Red Terror actually makes up for, but its abilities are unique and strong enough to justify its inclusion regardless, I feel. The Red Terror has a whopping six Strength 5 attacks on the charge - without Rending, unfortunately - at AP6 that combined with Weapon Skill and Initiative 5 make it, like Karanak, a devilishly impressive combat model even without armour-ignoring attacks of any significance. Combat characters are generally falling out of favour in most codices - save for a few notable exceptions such as the Laughing Autarch or the Eternal Chapter Master - with a focus instead on support or force multiplying abilities. Fateweaver, Farseers, Ethereals, Dark Angel Librarians and the like are the more common and competitive options because they buff units around them to ridiculous degrees, or are just plain cost effective beyond all others. It is with this in mind that models like the Red Terror become more valuable and their lack of armour ignoring attacks less of an issue; these models are fragile and will be mashed by massed Strength 5 attacks anyway.

    But is bullying non-combat oriented characters the Red Terror's sole purpose? Well, like Raveners, that many attacks is sure to hurt most things, especially at Strength 5, so the Red Terror only adds to the speed at which they scythe through infantry. As I explained earlier, this is generally a bad thing as you want to stick in combat for more than one round, but it can be used to your advantage. The Red Terror brings Toughness 5 and a 4+ armour save to the unit that, while the former mechanically won't have much function when majority Toughness 4 kicks in, can save you a lot of hassle. The Red Terror can actually take AP5 shooting, can soak up Strength 8 wounds one at a time instead of dying instantly, and isn't as frightened of power weapons in a challenge due to Toughness 5. Additionally, the Red Terror confers Leadership 8 on the unit, replacing their sub-par Leadership 6 and giving them a good chance of passing Instinctive Behaviour tests. This actually allows Raveners to operate as they did in the old codex somewhat; as independent combat beat-sticks looking to quickly tie up Devastator equivalents or even try and get a surround and wreck result on a light transport. Even with Leadership 8, I still recommend trying to keep in Synapse range as the Feed result can be pretty terrible for the already fragile Raveners that are so dependent on constantly moving. They need to be in combat and anything that prevents them from getting there absolutely must be avoided.

    So is the Red Terror worth those extra points? I tend to lean towards a "no" because three extra Raveners will win out on survivability while Synapse remains a near necessity, but that is before remembering its completely unique Swallow Whole special rule reminiscent of its introduction back in 3rd Edition. I still recall the Red Terror as the model that caught my eye and the one the Games Workshop Sydney staff of over 10 years ago kept talking about. It was this big important model that could lead a Swarm - coincidentally, the starter set at the time was the Battle for Macragge - and everyone was talking about it. The model was awesome and I remember reading its fluff section in the Tyranid codex; reading how it could eat Space Marines in one gulp, filling me with dread. Thankfully, this rule returns in all its splendor and gives the Red Terror a reason to exist even if it isn't as cost-effective an inclusion as its cost in Raveners would be. If the Red Terror manages to hit with four out of its six attacks, it can choose to forgo rolling to wound and instead remove a single enemy model in base contact from play - provided it fails an invulnerable save if it has any. This works on anything that isn't Very Bulky or Extremely Bulky, so potential targets are (with potential unit specific exclusions) infantry, jump infantry, jetpack infantry, beasts and cavalry. When you strike against a commander model, even one such as a Space Marine Chapter Master or Commander Farsight, the Red Terror can remove them from play - ignoring Eternal Warrior and all that jazz. With six attacks on the charge, this isn't as unlikely as you would think, especially when combined with Paroxysm against Weapon Skill 5 opponents. Against Weapon Skill 4 or lower enemies, the Red Terror averages four hits on the charge, allowing you to use the Swallow Whole attack. While many enemies will probably get killed by regular attacks anyway, using it to finish off a Master of the Forge hiding behind pesky 2+ armour saves is quite neat, as well as not having to slog through four wounds on a Tau Commander. It isn't some game-breaking special rule, but it is nice and makes the Red Terror a real threat to enemy HQ models.

    Overall, the Red Terror is a decent but unnecessary upgrade to a Ravener brood. The Leadership boost is nice but is mitigated by Synapse which you should probably have anyway - failing and eating each other is still an uncomfortably likely occurrence - while the extra Strength 5 attacks will probably serve only to see the Raveners get out of combat a turn earlier than they want to. The Swallow Whole rule is cool for killing off an otherwise very tanky character, but it isn't all that reliable and won't be that worthwhile against most opponents. The survivability boost the Red Terror has do help out somewhat, but as Raveners are mostly prone to death through shooting, their majority Toughness 4 cancels out half of the Red Terrors' defensive boosts. A 4+ armour save does allow it to tank AP5 shooting, but you don't want it to be taking that many saves as a 4+ still isn't that great anyway. The real value there lies in being able to take a krak missile to the face and not explode in a pile of gore, but those three shots it can tank - again - would be the same as losing three Raveners that are the same rough cost as the Red Terror. And those three Raveners can survive a heck of a lot more small arms fire, regardless of the 5+ armour save - remember, cover is your friend! Truth be told, the Red Terror is still cool and has the element of cheapness compared to a Tyranid Prime in its favour, but it really isn't an ideal use of points when the equivalent amount of models in the unit are a better investment. It is a nice addition to a unit that isn't what I would call terrible, but if you have the rule of cool second, then I would leave the Red Terror at home where you - and it - can reminisce about the good old days.

    Subterranean Lurkers

    Often mistaken as snake-like adaptations of the Warrior genus that have mutated a slithering tail and gait instead of legs, Raveners are a unique mash-up of the roles shared by Lictors and Trygons. They are stalkers and ambushers first, striking from beneath the ground without warning or defence against their attacks. To the horror of enemies, though, Raveners are not just mere predators but true front-line combatants, wreaking havoc on enemy lines with their ferocious speed and bulk. As a Mawloc devours one from below, so too does a Ravener shred its prey unseen - leaving only mangled corpses behind as a sign of their involvement.

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 02-27-2014 at 06:08 PM.
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  4. #24


    Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! Ripper Swarms are one of the oddities of the Tyranid codex, a unit that has decreased in usefulness and availability as each edition passes - almost as Games Workshop themselves have lost interest in them. Unfortunately, their flying siblings the Sky Slashers don't fare much better, even if these winged munchkins do have greater mobility to their name. I hope you enjoy this article!

    Sky Slasher Swarms


    Flying Rippers. Well....I guess flying Warriors are a thing, so whatever. The idea of a swooping rat makes me laugh, but I digress. Sky Slashers are identical in all but name, one missing upgrade, one slightly cheaper upgrade and unit type to Ripper Swarms, and are quite a bit more expensive per model to boot. I labeled Rippers a mostly pointless unit as Termagants and Hormagaunts do their jobs so much better - aside from being a cheap tarpit that can Deep Strike - and Sky Slashers are generally no different, save that they also compete with Gargoyles and don't need to pay to Deep Strike. So that I'm not repeating myself - notice a trend with these recent articles? - I'll just cover the basics. Rippers are Strength and Toughness 3 with three wounds per Swarm base which, with four attacks each, would logically make them the equivalent of three Gargoyles. Of course, it doesn't quite work that way; Toughness 3 with a 6+ armour save lends itself incredibly well to Instant Death, especially with so many Strength 6 or higher weapons in the game right now. Sky Slashers are also ineffective offensively as, even with four attacks per Swarm base, they are a pitiful Weapon Skill 2 meaning they won't hit very often anyway. You can equip them with Spinefists to make the most out of their four attacks, but even with twin-linking, that Ballistic Skill 2 really hurts their damage output. It's not enough that they are Initiative 2 and lack assault grenades, meaning they will get pulped by almost anything before they can strike. Sadly, despite being the only innately Fearless tarpit unit in the army - if you exclude Rippers (huh?) - they suffer from Instinctive Behaviour, and the Feed result at that. With Leadership 5, there is a very good chance your Sky Slashers will have a mental breakdown and kill each other, all while being unable to do anything whatsoever except hover awkwardly. A tarpit that can be ignored completely? Does not compute!

    So the stats are pretty bad, they are completely dependent on Synapse and they are bloody expensive to boot. Not the best start, but we can at least try and compare them to Rippers. The wings do make them Jump Infantry, as you would expect, while they oddly pay slightly less for Adrenal Glands than Rippers do. I already touched on this with Shrikes and Warriors, as it seems the codex is designed with Adrenal Glands being more expensive - and thus more valuable - for foot infantry rather than jump infantry. The extra movement generally favours jump infantry in this case, but for Sky Slashers in particular, I'm not sure it really matters as I dread to spend any more points on these expensive little mouths anyway. The only other notable difference between the two is that Sky Slashers come stock with the Deep Strike special rule - as they are jump infantry - which one can reasonably assume is why they are quite a bit more expensive than Rippers, unlike the price difference between Termagants and Gargoyles. So let us get to the big question; are they worth it over Rippers? I don't think so, honestly, even though you would think a jump infantry version of a combat tarpit unit would actually make sense. Sadly, Sky Slashers are just more expensive and will still die just as fast against any meaningful resistance or attention. Rippers do the tarpit job cheaper, they don't really need wings as Deep Strike can get them there anyway, and the kicker is that Rippers with the Deep Strike upgrade are still quite a bit cheaper than Sky Slashers. It's unfortunate and surprising, but I honestly just think you may as well take Rippers instead. Heck, at least Rippers take up one of six slots instead of one of three.

    How to Equip Them

    Even more than Rippers, I dread to put most of the upgrades on Sky Slashers because you quickly end up with crazily expensive swarm bases that will fold the moment a Wave Serpent so much as glances at them. Need I mention that every army in the game can put out a lot of Strength 6 shooting that will instantly kill Sky Slashers? Even if they are Jump Infantry and not regular Infantry, unlike standard Ripper Swarms, Sky Slashers are still unlikely to ever reach a combat and do much of anything other tie units up. With that said, why bother spending points on making them more damaging in combat when their sole purpose is just to tie units up? They are Fearless, after all, and thus do not need to rely on generating combat resolution to stay in combat. Using this theory, I would leave the upgrades at home for Sky Slashers - unless you are Deep Striking them. In that case, I definitely recommend Spinefists as, with four attacks per model and twin-linking, they can - much like the small Ravener units I described in my previous article - pop up and do some light shooting, be a general nuisance and tie up smaller units. This is the best use of Sky Slashers, especially as they have the Deep Strike capability incorporated into their base cost with the Jump unit type. You may as well make the most of it and leave the cheaper Ripper Swarms as your backfield and midfield tarpit units. While Sky-Slashers do end up being slightly more expensive when equipped for that suicide role, they also get a 12" move for making sure they can tarpit something.

    Where to Put Them

    As Sky Slashers already have the Deep Strike special rule, using them in the same way as you would a Deep Striking Ripper Swarm unit is advisable, even if Sky Slashers aren't as good at it. Rippers get by because they are cheaper and don't take up a contested slot; they can be slotted into an army list with no difficulty whatsoever. Sky Slashers, on the other hand, are in a slot where only three units can be taken outside of 2000+ point games. They compete with Gargoyles - a superior unit in the same roles as Sky Slashers that can handily score in Scouring missions - a Synapse unit in Shrikes and the two cheap flying monstrous creatures used to bulk up a Tyranid airforce. Rippers, of course, don't really worry about that. But, again, I digress. You can use them as a flying tarpit, but once they stick their little heads out in the open - and I don't mean in open terrain, I just generally mean in line of sight of enemies - they aren't going to last very long if your opponent remembers their Toughness 3. Again, Gargoyles suit any list better here, especially as they can put out triple the models for the same points cost and thus cover more area to deny opponents clear charging routes. Regardless of how you want to use them, you need to keep Sky Slashers in cover; three wounds per model won't mean much with a 6+ armour save and Toughness 3. The odd failed dangerous terrain test here or there isn't going to be anywhere near as bad as suffering a fusillade of pulse rifle fire without cover saves available.

    Best Uses

    Unfortunately I'm even less of a fan of Sky Slashers than Ripper Swarms simply because they want to be the more aggressive unit but still lack the means to do so without getting squashed. These are even more expensive Toughness 3 tarpit units with nothing to really save them from getting splotched by a Serpent Shield or stray Missile Pod shot. The best uses of Ripper Swarms are strangely enough still evident here; keeping them as small three-base-strong tarpits to hide behind monsters and Aegis Defence Lines as cheap Fearless interdiction units, or as small annoying Deep Striking units. They might be Jump Infantry, sure, and they pay a lot for it, but are they really paying for something they want or need? Ultimately, they are as easy to kill as Rippers, are easier to see because the models are higher up and still don't want to be used in combat except as a tarpit. As Hormagaunts, Termagants and Gargoyles are much better for front-line tarpit, scoring - and generally being useful - duties, Rippers and Sky Slashers are there for your Exocrines, Hive Guard and Biovores, the kind of units that sit at long to medium range. So where does that leave Sky Slashers? Unfortunately, in the same situation as Rippers, save that they are more expensive. If Gargoyles didn't exist, they might have a role as a flying tarpit, but as Gargoyles do exist, Sky Slashers are one step short of being rendered null and pointless. If you want Sky Slashers for a flying tarpit, just take three Gargoyles instead. With that in mind, use them the same way you do Rippers with the exception that as a Deep Striking unit they can move 12" on that subsequent turn.

    Recommended Builds

    These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.

    Sky Slashers (4) - This is a decently cheap and surprisingly tough - against small arms fire with assumed cover saves - tarpit unit that can deep strike into the enemy backfield and try and tie up or kill Devastator equivalents. You can try and run them up the field to provide mobile cover for Shrikes or Raveners as well, or try and hide behind buildings to leap out when necessary.

    Sky Slashers (4) - Spinefists - Almost identical to the above unit with one exception; the addition of Spinefists. With four attacks each base, this is a unit that puts out a whopping 16 Strength 3 twin-linked shots at Ballistic Skill 2. It's an ok unit for the cost, I guess, but one that is surprisingly mobile if your opponent ignores them. Using them to block a transport from moving forward is quite funny.

    For satirical purposes, I basically quoted the Ripper entries. The idea that Shrikes are simply flying Warriors and Sky Slashers are merely flying Rippers always amuses me when I look at Tyranids from a design stand point. A similar case can be made for all the derogatory terms about females used as a naming convention for the army. Just some of the funny things you notice about a product, I guess.

    Descent of Fangs

    If it wasn't enough that teeming masses of carrion organisms devoured all - living or dead - in their path, some of those same creatures adapted wings; shredding any unlucky enough to be sighted by the swarm. Like a chattering bat swarm, the only sign that these horrors are closing in for the kill is the endless droning of miniscule, flapping wings.

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 03-03-2014 at 05:48 PM.
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  5. #25


    Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! Descending in the thousands, Gargoyles are another adaptation of the Gaunt genus that bear close similarities to Termagants. Armed with Fleshborers and a unique poisoned attack, Gargoyles are cheap and very effective jump type equivalents to your standard horde infantry units. While they still are as blatant a "stick wings on unit x" example as Shrikes, Gargoyles still have a niche and prove to be among the Swarm's best source of massed bodies. I hope you enjoy this article!



    One of the issues I take stock with in Warhammer 40000 is the need to make "flying" versions of readily identifiable units, and Gargoyles are one of the clearer examples of this. They share the same gun, stats and even a couple of the same options as their obvious inspiration, Termagants. However, Gargoyles do have a unique ability that helps to distinguish them further from Termagants aside from just being "Termagants with wings". First though, let us look at the profile and, yes, aside from being Jump Infantry, Gargoyles are literally identical to Termagants in every sense here. You've got the middling Weapon Skill and Ballistic three, the above average Initiative four, the typical Strength and Toughness 3, one Attack per model, a pitiful 6+ armour save and a low Leadership value of 6. You've got the generic light infantry stats with a slight buff to Initiative and a weaker armour save, but this of course is mitigated by being Jump Infantry in the case of Gargoyles. Like Termagants and Hormagaunts, the stats are very much deceiving; these three units are point for point the deadliest melee units in the codex. This might seem hard to grasp at first, but when you factor in that a single Trygon is the equivalent of about thirty two Gargoyles, you will start to see what I mean. Yes, the horde units are more susceptible to templates, blast weapons, Ignores Cover shooting and massed small arms fire, but the 6th Edition meta has swung so heavily towards both Ignores Cover and high Strength shooting. Monstrous Creatures are better than ever, but the price comes with cheaper and stronger firepower than ever before. In that sense, thirty two Toughness 3 wounds can be better than six Toughness 6 wounds, and vice-versa. The number of attacks that the horde units put out are staggering, of course, but with Gargoyles it is a bit of an odd situation as they won't always be using those extra attacks on the charge.

    What differentiates Gargoyles from Termagants - aside from, again, having wings - is they have the Blinding Venom special rule. This allows them to make a single attack with the Poisoned (6+) and Blind rules instead of striking normally. Functionally, Poisoned (6+) allows Gargoyles to wound anything in the game, even a Wraithknight, which is always something to keep in mind if you don't take the arguably less valuable Toxin Sacs (for a unit that already has a form of Poison). Gargoyles still wound Toughness 4 opponents on 5s and Toughness 3 or lower opponents on 4s or better and so on as, per the rulebook, you still use the required roll if it is better than the fixed roll. As Gargoyles only have a single attack when not charging, there is literally no reason not to swap out for Blinding Venom when the Gargoyles have received a charge or are in the second round of combat. They get re-rolls to wound against other Toughness 3 opponents effectively for free, and can always fall back on being able to wound incredibly high Toughness models - a surprise for opponents hiding behind Toughness 7 or 8 for sure. Of course, the really interesting part here is the Blind aspect of the attack. Per the main rulebook, Blind works off of successful hits, not wounds caused, meaning that even five Gargoyles that hit with three attacks will cause three separate Blind tests. When you remember that Gargoyles are a horde unit of incredibly cheap models that should be taken in large units of fifteen at minimum, you begin to see just how good this is. The Blind rule is usually let down by forcing only one test on units that are predominantly Initiative 4 or higher, with Necrons, Tau and Orks being the main exceptions. Once you start throwing five to ten tests at a unit, even Initiative 5 and higher opponents who only fail on a 6 will statistically fail one on average.

    So what does Blind do again, exactly, other than force tests? Well, failing those tests has some pretty serious repercussions; the afflicted unit becomes Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill one until the end of their next turn. There are a lot of uses of this once you factor that at least six hits from a Gargoyle unit using their Blinding Venom will statistically see a failed test. The most obvious is for combo-charging. Gargoyles are Initiative 4, meaning they strike before a surprising number of units - including a bunch of Tyranid units. A unit that gets struck by Weapon Skill one will become not only incredibly easy targets for the other Tyranid unit in the combat, but their own damage output will be significantly lessened. Take trying to tarpit Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield Terminators with Gargoyles. Yes, the idea of trying to tarpit an elite melee unit like Terminators with a horde unit seems rather silly or intelligent depending on how many attacks the Terminators are getting through various potential buffs or their squad size. In any case, you generally wouldn't charge Gargoyles alone into such a unit. However, ten Gargoyles alone will statistically see one failed Blind test. From there, even five such Terminators are going to be hitting on 5s with their ten attacks, leading to three hits and three kills on average. Yikes, not such a great tarpit clearer eh? Once you factor in that the Terminators would usually be killing about five or six Gargoyles, it is a pretty big defensive buff. It really shines when applied in conjunction with something like a Trygon; having that Trygon hit on 5s and able to hide behind Toughness 6 is such a huge and oft much needed survivability boost. For these reasons alone I think Gargoyles are worthwhile, and while the offensive benefits of Blinding Venom have definitely been toned down dramatically, it is still one heck of a useful ability. Assuming you don't send them into combat unsupported - which usually doesn't end well for Tyranid units due to the army universally lacking assault grenades and high survivability - then pretty much unit you pair them up with will find Gargoyles to be an invaluable ally. Heck, the Haruspex probably derives the most benefits from Gargoyles in this sense with Weapon Skill 1 opponents completely mitigating its damage output to survivability quirk.

    The other less obvious use of Blinding Venom is to shut down a units' shooting capabilities almost completely. A Dire Avenger squad of any size is going to be nasty, particularly with some lucky rolling, for your monstrous creatures in particular. Charging them with a decent sized unit of Gargoyles probably won't get you anywhere other than tying them up for a turn or two. That's fine for the most part, but becomes a lot more intriguing once you realize that when they break from combat, those Dire Avengers are going to be Ballistic Skill 1 assuming you hit them with Blinding Venom. Ballistic Skill 1 shooting units of almost any capacity - Lootas excepted - are close to being a non-threat in that they are so dependent either on incredibly high rate of fire or support buffs, and most opponents won't plan ahead on addressing these issues when they are basically out of sequence. That you can throw the remnants of a Gargoyle brood at a ranged unit and, with some luck, see their shooting rendered mostly null is really valuable. Silencing the guns of Devastators even if you can't kill them outright is invaluable for Tyranids, even if it is just for that one turn - or two if you factor in the turn they were tied up in combat. While there are Blind-immune units - most notably Tau Battlesuit units - it is still a special rule with a far reach and lots of potential. While my initial reaction to the change with Blinding Venom was similarly jaded, just realizing how good it can be on a Jump Infantry unit that can help your army to advance not only as a tarpit but with that Blind is just so useful.

    In general, Gargoyles are just a fantastic unit, even if their offensive output - especially with available upgrades doubling in points per model - has dropped significantly. That is perfectly fine though as the added functionality of Blind, plus retaining the capability to wound absolutely anything with a Toughness value, still makes Gargoyles a versatile unit. They aren't just Termagants with wings, they are Gargoyles with a clear purpose in the army, a low cost, great mobility and a pretty great support ability once you put it into practice. Yes, Tyranids aren't based around melee nearly as much as they used to be, but it is still where many of the Swarms' broods excel, and Gargoyles are one of the keys to making such a list work. Blinding Venom is a staggeringly under-rated ability even if it could be interpreted as inferior to its previous incarnation. Heck, I've gotten this far into my Overview without even mentioning Instinctive Behaviour! Yes, Gargoyles do kind of rely on being paired up with Shrikes or near flying Hive Tyrants, but I think Hunt in particular is less of an issue for Gargoyles than Feed is for Hormagaunts or Lurk is for Termagants. At least if you are using Gargoyles for denial purposes, the worst result is that they just Go to Ground and sit on that objective. They can use their decent little guns in Overwatch and their Blinding Venom in combat to hold up enemy units while awaiting support from a Synapse creature. They don't just Fall Back or start eating other, becoming completely useless. This way, they don't hurt each other, they get a boosted cover save and, heck, once they get into Synapse range they immediately get back up. There are a lot of shenanigans that can be abused with this; you use Gargoyles as meat shields for your flying monsters or ground Synapse units such as Warriors and forage ahead then Go to Ground once shot. This way, they won't have to worry about Instinctive Behaviour as they will already have gone to ground. Do this in cover and they will be getting anything from 4+ to 2+ cover saves, becoming surprisingly hard to shift and a real annoyance for your opponent. Move a Synapse unit into range and watch the Gargoyles get back up and proceed to act normally - even shooting and charging! So yes, Instinctive Behaviour isn't much of an issue here, at least certainly not as much as it is for other units. You still want to keep them in Synapse range, obviously, but it isn't the be-all end-all to making the unit work. Gargoyles are good enough as it is even when that painful negative is considered.

    How to Equip Them

    Gargoyles have an incredibly long list of options, with a grand total of two to further customize your fodder infantry. Poor joke aside, Gargoyles only access to Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs; unlike their ground variant in Termagants, they don't get any replacements for Fleshborers which is a bit of a shame. Flying Devourers would definitely be awesome to go along with flying Brain-Leech Devourers and mitigate any potential range issues the weapon has on Termagants. Of the two upgrades they can take, I'm more in the school of taking Adrenal Glands than Toxin Sacs because Gargoyles do come stock with Blinding Venom - even if it is significantly changed over its previous incarnation. I've already discussed Blinding Venom so I won't go into it too much again, but it effectively allows you to wound Toughness 5 and higher opponents on 6s while also gaining Blind, as well as actually being able to harm Toughness 7 and higher opponents in combat.

    The Blinding part of the attack is the really valuable part, of course, with Initiative 4 Gargoyles potentially able to reduce enemies to Weapon Skill 1 for your monstrous creatures to really tear them apart. Even just generally, having the enemy at Weapon Skill 1 for what amounts to a game turn is awesome for a protracted combat. Neither upgrade works with Blinding Venom though, so if you do plan on making use of it - and you really should as Gargoyles are intended for a combo-charge role - then Adrenal Glands are the better fit as they at least give an out of combat upgrade through Fleet. Jump Infantry with Fleet are pretty darn quick, of course, and should be able to do a reasonable job of keeping up with flying monstrous creatures and getting into assault a turn early to both tie up and soften up an enemy unit for a melee monster to crush. Honestly though, both upgrades aren't really that valuable for Gargoyles once you do factor in the surprising usefulness of Blinding Venom when combined with all other Tyranid assault units. Gargoyles don't need the extras - even Fleet, as they are quick enough anyway for your predominantly 6" moving combat units - and do just fine as a very cheap horde unit without upgrades, especially now that both upgrades have doubled in cost since their previous incarnations.

    Where to Put Them

    As models on flying stands, the most obvious place to put Gargoyles is spread around a flying monstrous creature or even a walking monster. Heck, anything from Shrikes to Trygons make great choices to "bubble-wrap" with Gargoyles due to their speed and low cost per model. Their Blinding Venom also gives them some incredible combo-charge potential and allows them to hurt some units they would otherwise have to pay for Toxin Sacs to harm. I prefer to keep them around a Synapse creature for obvious reasons, but also because our usual mobile Synapse units can benefit so much from intervening cover provided by the Gargoyles. Shrikes need cover saves to make up for their abysmal armour save. Hive Tyrants with wings - assuming they are separate from Tyrant Guard - are still 3+ armoured monstrous creatures with only four wounds that lack an invulnerable save, and thus also require cover saves to survive. While you will slow down flying monstrous creatures by surrounding them with Gargoyles, the more considered play style the new Tyranid Codex intimates actually fits into this just fine. Of course, Gargoyles might be a great tarpit in melee but they are still incredibly fragile against ranged attacks. You need cover for them to work, so deploying them - again, near or around the unit you want to protect - in area terrain or even behind a ruin is wise. Make use of the 2" unit coherency rules as much as possible as Gargoyle wings mean they are incredibly susceptible to weapons that use blast markers and templates. If you want to just tie a unit up, keep them in Synapse range and go for Tactical Squads or inferior units in terms of melee capabilities, such as Necron Warriors or Tau units. If you actually want to kill things, pair them up with a monster or another unit and make use of their Blinding Venom to reduce enemies to Weapon Skill 1 for the next combat phase.

    Best Uses

    I'm honestly in the school of thought that you should leave Gargoyles bare, run them in pretty large squads to make full use of just how cost effective they are and just flood the board with even more horde units from the Fast Attack slot. Each upgrade they can take is a third of their total points cost and as Gargoyles are pretty much your best or second best tarpit unit overall due to their high mobility and cost, I think leaving them bare is the right idea. Toxin Sacs give them a great melee boost, but waste their Blinding Venom. Adrenal Glands are nice for both Fleet and Strength 4 attacks, but the inability to combine Furious Charge with Hammer of Wrath and Blinding Venom is a downer. Besides, Fleet isn't as necessary for a unit that is mostly about protecting another unit rather than necessarily getting into combat. Make the most of the fact that they are effectively Termagants with wings and a surprisingly nasty combo-charge ability in Blind Venom for a mere few points more per model by running them in large units in conjunction with flying monstrous creatures or Shrikes. Aim them at nasty units or weak units; either way, once you hit Blinding Venom off, that unit will be incredibly easy prey for any of your proper dedicated assault units. They just naturally fit as the protectors of Shrikes or flying Hive Tyrants in particular, providing much needed cover to those units, acting as a tarpit and move-blocker against nasty opposing flying monsters, and they are just a generally cheap and cost effective unit. They do decent damage at short range in either the shooting phase or the assault phase, and when they reduce a unit to Weapon Skill 1 through massed Blind attacks they will probably make their points back from how easy it makes combat for something like a Haruspex. The reality is that as long as they are kept in Synapse range, Gargoyles rank up with Termagants as one of the most cost-effective units in the codex and should be one of your main priorities to employ as a Tyranid player. They can fight many units very well, they are a great tarpit, they are fast, cover gives them good survivability and their Blinding Venom gives them additional support capabilities.

    Recommended Builds

    These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.

    Gargoyles (20) - If the idea of putting out 20 Blind attacks after any applicable Strength 3 Hammer of Wrath attacks appeals to you, this is the unit for you. Cheap for what it does, able to cover a lot of space - and thus provide cover to many units - and nasty on a combo-charge, even on the first round with an Initiative 3 or lower unit. If you don't have much faith in the Blind effects or they won't be useful in a given situation, there are always massed standard Strength 3 attacks on the charge!

    Gargoyles (15) - Adrenal Glands - This unit is the same exact cost as the above unit, but gains Fleet and two Strength 4 attacks each on the charge provided they don't use their Blinding Venom. This is your more generalist Gargoyle unit that doesn't necessarily operate around combo-charging with lower Initiative Tyranid units. They are fast, put out a lot of Strength 4 attacks plus Strength 3 Hammer of Wrath and are generally a deceptively annoying unit for opponents. Don't forget that even one failed Blind test in the second round of combat if the Gargoyles are performing badly will see the enemy unit at Ballistic Skill 1 for the next turn, making them incredibly ineffective at range.

    Deathly Pulse

    Throughout legend and myth, the portents of doom come from storms, locusts feasting ravenously or livestock stricken by an unknown assailant. But for countless garrisons throughout the galaxy in the universe of Warhammer 40000, it is perhaps the faint pulse every second that is the most terrible sign of imminent death. Standing idle, those on watch and unable to sleep can hear a faint, regular beat, a sound that is as maddening as it is enchanting. It is only when the time for escape has long passed that the unwary defenders realize the true horror of what faces them; a thousand creatures borne on leathery wings, screeching in a kind of alien, predatory glee as they find their quarry unaware and unprepared for what will come next. Perhaps the knowledge that there a million of these creatures for every human is so chilling, or that they are not alone alongside other greater beasts.

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 03-05-2014 at 03:06 AM.
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  6. #26


    Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! Harpies are one of many new organisms introduced in the Tyranid 5th Edition codex that had to wait a whopping four years to see an official kit release, and I think it goes without saying that they were one of the most anticipated models from Games Workshop. Even despite their weak rules in 5th Edition, 6th Edition revolutionized the Harpy with the addition of Flying Monstrous Creatures, and the new codex sees a further improvement on these screeching serpents. I hope you enjoy this article!



    Ah, the Harpy, quite easily my favourite model from the 6th Edition Tyranid release. The model is awesome, but do the rules hold up? Fortunately, they fare a lot better than most - including myself - initially thought. A common mistake we all make is to look at a unit without support and on its own merits in an army when first reviewing a codex; this is, after all, why we have those early articles marked as "initial impressions". I will however come out and say that the Harpy - and the Hive Crone too, by extension - have really surprised me with their effectiveness on the table-top. Their best advantage is not in what they bring so much but more that they are a cheap flying monstrous creature that gives you an incredibly cheap flyer equivalent that is tougher than the more expensive vehicular variants found in other armies. Besides, flying monstrous creatures are of course just so much more versatile than flyers; the former can charge units, use Smash to instantly kill characters and take on vehicles, has more freedom of movement with a 12" minimum move and, of course, is far tougher to destroy by conventional means. So let us look at the individual benefits of the Harpy and just why I think it is a close competitor with the Hive Crone and Gargoyles as our best Fast Attack choice. First off, the stats. While these are unimpressive, you need to remember that for the majority of a game, enemies will need to snap-shoot at the Harpy lest they have Skyfire weapons. Its Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill 3 are middling, but the latter is offset by twin-linking on its main gun and the low scatter potential of its unique weapon. With Strength 5 and that low Weapon Skill, though, the Harpy isn't really suited to combat, especially with only three attacks. While that odd number does mean it sacrifices only a single attack when it Smashes, it still isn't anything special. What is odd is the monsters' high Initiative of 5 typical to Raveners or Commander-equivalent units. This can see potentially lucky charges against enemy walkers or monsters by using those high Initiative Smash attacks, but Weapon Skill 3 and only three Smash attacks on the charge still sees me rather against this kind of approach.

    The Harpy has mediocre durability for a monstrous creature when solely considering its five Toughness 5 wounds with a 4+ armour save, but again, its nature as a flying monstrous creature gives it a lot more leeway than an initial impression would suggest. However, it goes without saying that the Harpy is fragile, especially as it lacks an invulnerable save. Massed small arms fire has a criminally high chance of seeing a failed grounding test on a flying monstrous creature, and Harpies are especially vulnerable to that kind of shooting. Bolters wound the beast on 5s, and any armour save forced is failed half the time which really isn't commendable for a monstrous creature when bolter fire can be massed in ludicrous numbers, particularly by a Legion army list. This is why I tend to keep Harpies back away from enemy units and mostly use their main gun instead of their close-range attacks; they are just so fragile and will die the instant they are grounded. On that note, a failed grounding test is almost guaranteed to cause an unsaved wound on a Harpy what with its complete lack of an invulnerable save, and five wounds really isn't that much when you consider its defensive stats. The exception to the "stay back" rule is when your army build is more aggressive, filled with Tyrannofexes, a Tervigon or two and many other Flying Monstrous Creatures as a core. Here, Harpies act almost as "chaff" units for the Tyranid force, being highly mobile and even sacrificial units due to their very low cost that can easily tie up a unit for a long time due to innate Fearless. Its combat potential is low, but it is still a monstrous creature and will beat down on Tactical Marine equivalents provided they aren't taken in large numbers - and yes, ten Tactical Marines will probably have their way with an unsupported Harpy due to Strength 6 AP4 Krak Grenades.

    The interesting quirks of the Harpy become more apparent the closer it gets to an enemy, though, even if it isn't necessarily a unit you want near a high concentration of enemy units. The first of these are its unique Spore Mine Cysts, fired as per a Bombing Run for flyers with no difference that I have been able to discern. When a Harpy flies over a unit when swooping - and it should always be swooping! - it can count as firing one weapon for the shooting phase and drop a Strength 4 AP4 Large Blast with Poisoned (4+) using the Barrage rules that scatters a miniscule D6". This is a really powerful tool, especially as it can be fired in conjunction with the Harpies' primary weapon; the Spore Mine Cysts absolutely devastate light to medium infantry, something the Stranglethorn Cannon also excels at. And if you actually manage to miss something with a large blast that only scatters D6" then it creates D3 Spore Mines automatically that can charge a unit - and thus explode - on the turn they are created. I've not found this happens too often, but when it does, it can be pretty hilarious; using them to soak up Overwatch instead of your more valuable standard units alone is awesome. You can even opt out of firing the Harpies guns and do both a bombing run and a Vector Strike in the same movement phase, doing a whole lot of either pseudo or full Ignores Cover wounds. While the Spore Mine Cysts are limited by a 24" range and the large oval base of the Harpy, as well as its fragility at close range, they are nonetheless a very devastating weapon against Eldar, Tau, Necron and other light infantry in particular. This is one of the biggest reasons to be more aggressive with a Harpy, especially when they - or Crones - are taken in numbers. Harpies just excel at destroying infantry which, as the usual unit type for scoring units, makes Harpies pretty darn valuable in the vast majority of missions from the main rulebook.

    As if that wasn't enough, Harpies combine their Initiative 5 with the Sonic Shriek, a special rule that imposes itself when one of these monsters charges an enemy unit. Each enemy model in the same combat as a Harpy on the turn they charged suffers a whopping -5 penalty to their Initiative. The obvious and limited use of this is to make up for a Harpy lacking assault grenades, but in the context of an army universally lacking assault grenades, this is a really powerful tool when used alongside Hormagaunts, Shrikes and all manner of Tyranid assault units. Not only does it mitigate the penalties of charging through cover enough that both sides will fight on even footing, but if your units don't charge through cover then it can see even your slow Carnifexes tearing units apart before they strike. A Wraithknight isn't so scary for your Tyranid Prime and Carnifex Brood all with Toxin Sacs if it strikes last due to the help of a friendly Harpy, no? This is just another great ability that can make up for the Tyranid codex' flaws and serves to make the Harpy one of the better value monsters in the codex. It can't really deal with flyers, but it is cheap and versatile enough to be a worthwhile unit in any army list planning on taking three or more flying monstrous creatures. Oh, and as for Instinctive Behaviour - of which the Harpy suffers from Hunt - you will never need to worry either because of Leadership 10, or because it forces you to shoot the nearest enemy units as a Harpy ignores the first result. For a flying gun beast...that's not bad at all!

    How to Equip Them

    Harpies have two primary weapon options that will provide slight variations on their role on the battlefield, with a number of secondary upgrades able to give them some slight but unnecessary boosts.The first and biggest choice to make with a Harpy is the main gun; do you take the stock Stranglethorn Cannon or the paid-for Heavy Venom Cannon? As a general note, both weapons are twin-linked and thus make up for that Ballistic Skill 3 for the most part, and also reduce the accuracy issues inherent with a small blast. While I do prefer a Barbed Strangler over a Venom Cannon on Warriors, for example, I am more a fan of the Heavy Venom Cannon on a Harpy. The reasons for this are pretty straightforward, actually. A Strength 6 small blast really isn't that threatening to most vehicles, particularly with a mediocre AP value, and so the large blast of the Barbed Strangler is generally better for light infantry hunting as a well spaced unit will only get hit once or twice by a small blast usually. Throw in Pinning and an identical cost and the Barbed Strangler is probably the better bet for a unit that can only really engage infantry anyway. With the Harpy, I look at the upgrades each gun has over their standard version; the Stranglethorn Cannon has two higher Strength, while the Heavy Venom Cannon has three higher Strength. Strength 9 is a massive threat to most vehicles and so its inability to hit many infantry models is mostly a non-issue, though the high Strength does make it a nasty surprise answer against multiple-wound Toughness 4 models such as Crisis Suits. Throw in the very strong Spore Mine Cysts all Harpies have that decimate light to medium infantry with ease and their ability to be used against a separate target to what the Harpy shoots at and you can see the versatility a Heavy Venom Cannon brings. A Strength 9 small blast will penetrate AV12 about 50% of the time on average, and is one of few Tyranid ranged weapons that can actually harm - perhaps even penetrate - AV14 vehicles. Put it on an incredibly mobile platform that can get side shots very easily and you have yourself a real winner.

    Now, this isn't to say the Stranglethorn Cannon is without its uses. A Strength 6 AP5 large blast with Pinning is still pretty nasty, especially as both main guns have a 36" range, allowing you to decimate light infantry and force masses of armour saves on well armoured bodies with Toughness 4 or lower. It's a nice weapon for sure, I just feel the Strength 9 small blast a Heavy Venom Cannon offers give the Harpy less of a niche role as an infantry hunter and more a generalist role similar to a Flying Hive Tyrant armed with two twin-linked Brain Leech Devourers. It can harass heavy infantry and all manner of ground vehicles from afar, bomb infantry when it closes and then perform a charge against lone or fragile units with great effect. Its combo-charge potential is enormous with its Sonic Shriek ability effectively giving combat-wide lack of necessity for assault grenades, an aspect of combat that Tyranids typically find themselves lacking in. Combine the Initiative penalty from a Harpy with the Blinding Venom of Gargoyles and watch as your opponents fall before your mediocre combat units without much of a fight; Weapon Skill 1 Honour Guard won't worry even Gargoyles as much as you would think! I digress though, so I'll close with the thought that both weapons are good but the Heavy Venom Cannon gives you a lot more flexibility with a Harpy and for only a miniscule increase in points. I've found success with both weapons though so if you find yourself five or ten points over your army list limit, don't be afraid to drop the Heavy Venom Cannon back down to a Stranglethorn Cannon as your Harpy will still have some strong shooting to put out!

    The other upgrades available to a Harpy are ones that I generally avoid mostly because of how unnecessary they all are for a monster fitting the role a Harpy does. The Harpy is a bomber in the form of a flying monstrous creature and generally doesn't belong in combat except to attack smaller, less threatening units like Combat Squads or Artillery squads. It does have an awesome combo-charge ability with Sonic Shriek but unless it could actually be used to swing a combat you might struggle in - something Tyranids usually don't have too much of a problem with - then you don't need to worry about it. The Harpy is fragile and doesn't want to end up gliding during the opponents' shooting phase because you killed an enemy unit in one round of assault. It is safest when swooping and using its long ranged guns to its advantage, so don't waste the firepower on offer for mediocre combat abilities as far as Tyranid monsters are concerned. All this is a long-winded explanation of why I think you shouldn't bother with any of the Biomorphs. Fleet from Adrenal Glands might be handy, but the Harpy has a 36" ranged primary weapon. I wouldn't be so concerned about trying to get it into combat quickly, especially as it can regularly move 24" a turn when swooping anyway. The other, combat-centric upgrades might help if you do find your Harpy fighting a nasty enemy unit in assault, but a Harpy generally won't win against any decent melee unit regardless of what upgrades it takes. As such, I recommend leaving the Biomorphs at home. The Harpy can take a third ranged weapon in the form of Cluster Spines or a Stinger Salvo, and I generally avoid these because one of the best abilities the Harpy has counts as firing a weapon. The Spore Mine Cysts can pair up with either the Harpies' Vector Strike or main gun to do a lot of damage to one or two units per turn. A third gun doesn't fit in there as both of them aren't nearly as useful as any of the other weapons a Harpy has. You can make a case for a Stinger Salvo against fliers, or for Cluster Spines as an 18" shooting attack for while the Harpy gets close enough to use its Spore Mine Cysts, but a 24" move per turn means you really shouldn't have to worry about this. Besides, you will be paying for a gun you will fire once, if at all. My advice is, again, to leave these alone and keep the Heavy Venom Cannon as a Harpies' only potential upgrade.

    Where to Put Them

    As Flying Monstrous Creatures, you have two main options in deployment. You either deploy them in cover, or you keep them in reserves. The former is more common because it allows a Harpy to start dealing damage on the first turn and use cover or their swooping mode if they have the second or first turn, respectively, to survive. Hiding them behind terrain isn't too hard if the piece is solid enough; wings are not counted for the purposes of line of sight to flying monstrous creatures, and since the main bulk of both the Harpy and the Crone is in the wings, hiding them really isn't as difficult as it might seem. You need to keep Harpies in cover because Toughness 5 with five wounds and a 4+ armour save is far too fragile, especially against a standard Tau or Imperial Guard army list, to have out in the open or in the sights of many units. Don't deploy aggressively with them but instead deploy them behind line of sight blocking terrain or in cover; they have a 24" swooping move with a 36" ranged heavy gun. They do not need to be deployed at the fore under any circumstances, unless you really want a first turn bombing run with the Spore Mine Cysts.

    Keeping Harpies in Reserves is the alternative and, while not too common, certainly viable way to deploy them. This is to safe-guard them from an inevitable fusillade of first turn shooting where, Night Fighting excepted (but not against Tau), they are usually at their most vulnerable as they will be gliding if your opponent takes the first turn. Another line of thought is that the more shooting your opponent has, the more chances of a failed grounding test there are. While Tau in particular bring lots of Interceptor shooting, again, a 24" move from reserves as well as the stipulation that wings do not count for line of sight should allow a Harpy to hide on any decently filled game board. I generally prefer to start Harpies on the board though because they add to that crucial target saturation at the start of the game, something that is so key to a good Tyranid army. The majority of units in your army need to be viewed as sacrificial, a harsh but necessary truth that allows your surviving elements to mop up the enemy. While not every game works in this way, I find having five to three flying monstrous creatures on the board at the start of the game in conjunction with a pair of Tyrannofexes and a Tervigon - all at 1250+ point game sizes, by the way - is generally enough to keep opponents on their toes.

    Best Uses

    I see the best use of Harpies is less as a one or two-off unit that you throw into any army list, but as support for your Flying Hive Tyrants. Harpies have Leadership 10 and are thus not really worried about Instinctive Behaviour, but one or two flying monstrous creatures can be taken down pretty easily. Take five - two of which are key Synapse creatures - though, and all of a sudden any typical list, even many competitive ones, is going to be struggling to get rid of twenty-three Toughness 5-6 4+-3+ armoured wounds that can only be hit regularly by Skyfire weapons. The best part about Harpies is that they are cheap, giving you the most inexpensive flying monstrous creature in the game that is fully capable and ready without any upgrades, unlike a Daemon Prince for example. You don't need to put any points into them - maybe exchange the Stranglethorn Cannon for a Heavy Venom Cannon and that is it - for them to be an effective unit, one that adds a lot of versatility to your army. You can use them to clear out small scoring units, tie up Devastator and Pathfinder equivalents and even Smash a vehicle to pieces. They are also a naturally Fearless unit, so getting into combat with a nasty ranged unit that can't do too much to a Toughness 5 monster in combat is also a nice use of the Harpy. If you are worried about being pelted by massed small arms fire that is actually deceptively dangerous for a Harpy, keep at range; you have either a Stranglethorn Cannon or a Heavy Venom Cannon, so make use of their 36" range! Otherwise, give this thing a Heavy Venom Cannon, use it in conjunction with a whole bunch of other flying monstrous creatures and go nuts. It can destroy vehicles - though I would avoid Walkers with power fists - at range pretty effectively or much easier in combat, it can do a lot of damage to most units at range but often more-so when it is close enough to do a bombing run. The Harpy works best at short range due to its increasing damage output and potential with melee attacks and Vector Strikes, though its minimum 12" move means that unlike vehicular flyers you are pretty free to go where you want and sit back if necessary.

    Recommended Builds

    These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.

    Harpy - The stock-standard Harpy build is also a great one, putting out a ridiculous amount of anti-infantry shooting through multiple large blast weapons. With a twin-linked Stranglethorn Cannon and Spore Mine Cysts, Harpies usually won't need any other weapons, not unless you don't mind spending a few extra points on Cluster Spines or a Stinger Salvo for the turn or two before it starts dropping bombs.

    Harpy - Heavy Venom Cannon - There are merits to both of the weapon choices, but the Heavy Venom Cannon is undeniably the generalist choice - and with only a tiny price to accompany it! This makes for the most versatile and effective Harpy build I feel, able to bomb infantry and then either hit them with a Strength 9 blast or target all manner of vehicles with it.

    Swooping Shrieker

    Likened to the serpentine Trygon, a Harpy is a graceful beast soaring on massive fleshy wings even despite its colossal weight. The curved spikes of its carapace and long, sinuous tail are oddly enough the least threatening aspects of this hellish creature born from the skies. As it swoops low it delivers a deadly payload of spore clusters and strangling vices, obliterating armour and dissolving fleshy tissue in a matter of moments. What marks this out like no other bomber is its ear-piercing shriek, heard only when it descends into the thick of battle to consume its prey, or as a defensive weapon which no foe can bear. If their skulls are not rent by this sickening scream or by its vile, toxic weaponry, the Harpy becomes vulnerable with its weaker physical attributes a sacrifice for its unparalleled speed in the air. But even so, a Harpy is no mere beast when driven by the Hive Mind and is still capable of rending any warrior limb from limb with ease.

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 03-08-2014 at 06:43 PM.
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  7. #27


    Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! Hive Crones are one of a handful of new additions to the Tyranid army range, bringing raw versatility, decent survivability and high speed all at a very affordable points cost. This is a unit that literally screams to be part of an army laden with flying monstrous creatures, and it certainly gives you quite a few reason to go up that route. I hope you enjoy this article!

    Hive Crones


    The kit-sibling to the hotly anticipated Harpy model, the Hive Crone battles it out with the flying Trygon to determine just what is the most versatile Tyranid model in the army before any upgrades are considered. Instead of trying to directly compare them as the two are pretty distinct in their preferred targets, I will merely save myself from repeating what I wrote earlier and sum up the stats of the two beasts. The Crone has identical stats to a Harpy in every area, even the high Initiative 5. This means the Crone is a mediocre close combat fighter that is only saved by its unit type, a mediocre shooter in regards to Ballistic-Skill based weapons, and has low survivability for a monstrous creature unless it isn't facing Skyfire weaponry. Both get away with these seemingly weak stats by being so versatile and cheap, while being a flying monstrous creature does a lot for their durability in general - the extra mobility alone to avoid most close combat encounters is a big enough boon for these two. The Leadership 10 for both also means they really don't have to worry about Instinctive Behaviour, especially as both are Fearless anyway and are thus immune to the worst effects of both. In essence, both the Hive Crone and the Harpy are two of the best Tyranid non-Syanpse models in terms of self support, combining ferocious speed and good damage output with all the goodies that come with being a flying monstrous creature. The Crone, distinctly, has the Feed Instinctive Behaviour as opposed to the Harpies' Hunt, meaning it loses the ability to shoot but, importantly, can still Vector Strike and fly off the board. Alternatively, you can charge a fragile infantry unit if you want to keep the Crone active. Instinctive Behaviour really isn't a problem for these two!

    Where the Crone really starts to differ from the Harpy is in its ranged damage output, and in the formers' lack of the Sonic Screech ability. The Crone, as such, lacks the insane combo-charge potential of a Harpy that can stymy the army-wide lack of assault grenades. While this is a downer, as well as the Crone being quite a bit more expensive, its versatility and shooting capabilities are absolutely top notch. First off, it can clear out large swathes of infantry with its Drool Cannon, a template weapon with very respectable Strength 6 and AP4. This means it will essentially annihilate entire squads of infantry from the Eldar, Tau, Necron and Imperial Guard armies with no saves allowed, even inflicting instant death on Toughness 3 characters. The only issue here is that it lacks the Torrent profile meaning it is limited by the movement of the Crone itself, an issue famously circumvented by the Chaos Space Marine Heldrake. I've found that while it will severely limit the hits you get each turn, particularly before your Crone gets into the enemy deployment zone in the first turn or two, the large base of the Crone and 360 degree view mean it isn't quite as limiting as I initially thought. It's a nasty weapon for when you need an infantry unit dead and your Tyrannofexes and Harpies can't handle the job. From there, the Crone has four Tentaclids, the first missile-type weapons available to Tyranids. These have pretty lacklustre profiles with Strength 5 and AP5, but their special rules are what makes them so valuable; each is a Haywire shot that also re-rolls to hit against Zooming Flyers and Swooping Flying Monstrous Creatures. Haywire means that the Strength 5 shot can maybe inflict a glancing hit on an AV11 or AV10 vehicle and then have a huge chance to swipe off another hull point, or just strip hull points off of any vehicle you see. Haywire doesn't effect monstrous creatures though, so I would keep the Tentaclids reserved for flyers in particular. Heavy vehicles like Land Raiders really hate Haywire, even if a Crone is only likely to strip two hull points off on average with its four missiles. For an army that really struggles to deal with heavily armoured vehicles except in combat, a few salvos with Tentaclids from multiple Hive Crones can prove an invaluable defensive tool against these armoured behemoths.

    So already we have a monster that can deal with enemy flyers, ground vehicles and infantry pretty well, though it isn't as good at the first two as a Flying Hive Tyrant armed with twin-linked Brain Leech Devourers, not is as good a squad-killer as a Harpy. But that the Crone combines these roles into one cheap model is what makes it stand out, and that is before mentioning its devastating Raking Strike. This special rule grants the Hive Crone a Vector Strike with a whopping Strength 8, capable of inflicting instant death with no cover saves allowed at AP3 on Toughness 4 multiple-wound models, or of just destroy Vindicators and Predators with their weak side armour eleven. The big question is, then, how does it rate against the Heldrake's amazing Meteoric Descent? The most important factor here is range; the Heldrake can move 36" and then fire a torrent template weapon in any direction, giving it unprecedented mobility and the ability to be placed almost anywhere and still do damage. The Hive Crone, instead, can movw 24" and then fire a template weapon lacking the crucial torrent rule, meaning that while it also has a 360 degree line of sight it has significantly less range of damage. This means it is less likely to be able to fly over a unit and then shoot a weapon effectively if they are spaced well. That its template weapon lacks torrent means it has no way to make up for being limited by smart positioning on your opponents part, meaning you can't get away with a Vector Strike and then a template shot covering a good number of models. Where a Heldrake has always been able to Vector Strike a worthwhile target on the turn it arrives for me, the Crone is unlikely to do this until at least the second turn except if its controlling player goes second against an assault or heavily aggressive army. This means that it is a lot more limiting than Meteoric Descent, but really, that isn't so much of a bad thing. A 24" move is still great and not to be under-estimated, but the base size of the Harpy can be an issue here. In any case, when the Vector Strike is used, it is undeniably strong; ripping 3+ armoured monsters and medium to light vehicles apart with ease. Combine that with potent anti-air missiles and a nice little cover-ignoring weapon and you have yourself a cheap and effective unit that rightly takes its place as the most versatile monster in the Tyranid army.

    How to Equip Them

    In my Harpy Tactica, I pointed out why you should probably leave all the upgrades - except the Heavy Venom Cannon - alone; a Harpy does not need them as it doesn't really want to be in combat, nor will it really get much benefit out of an extra ranged weapon due to its already stacked shooting attacks. Unfortunately - or fortunately if you are into keeping things cheap - the Hive Crone is in a similar boat except only exacerbated by its four Tentaclid Missiles. Replace the Spore Mine Cysts with the Strength 8 Vector Strike and the Stranglethorn Cannon with the Drool Cannon, then add four Haywire anti-air missiles and you kind of get the drift of why you shouldn't add another shooting attack. While a Harpy does have a long-ranged weapon, the Crone has to rely on its missiles as it closes before it can really do some harm with that Vector Strike and template weapon; their 36" range allows the Crone to fire off up to two full salvos in your backfield if you want to play safe early on. Even then, I'm still not really a fan of either gun as the Vector Strike more than covers for any shooting they provide, while a Drool Cannon - when it is in range of something - is far more devastating than either Cluster Spines or a Stinger Salvo. And again, those combat upgrades aren't necessary on something that does most of its damage in the air and won't win combats except against weak units in melee anyway. Keep the Crone bare and keep the points low so that you can take more bodies in your list.

    Where to Put Them

    As with the Harpy, a Hive Crone can either begin the game in or behind terrain, or start off the board in reserves. You can't ever leave it out in the open due to its middling defensive stats unless it is swooping - and even then, as it suffers no negative penalties for being in cover, it may as well always be in terrain anyway - in which case you should still avoid getting too closed to massed small arms fire. If you only have one to three fliers, try to be more cautious with them; consider not going for the easy Crisis Team kill and instead for that more isolated Pathfinder team if it means another probable turn of your Crone surviving. Even an army lacking in Skyfire likely won't have too much trouble grounding a Crone if they have lots of infantry with bolters or equivalent weapons, and once grounded, a Crone is literally a sitting duck. Using the rule that wings do not count towards line of sight for a flying monstrous creature, deploy the Crone either sideways or straight behind a building or suitable piece of terrain depending on its proportions. Minimize first turn firepower to it as much as possible by deploying safely and giving it a cover save at least; why try and deploy aggressively when there is both no guarantee of going first and going second is so much better for late-game objective capturing! A Crone's best weapon may be its Vector Strike, but it has many other weapons and capabilities to employ before it gets close; unless you are playing with five or more flying monstrous creatures, I advocate against being really aggressive. You want your ground forces to maintain a close distance to a Crone, if only so that they can assist a Crone when it is inevitably grounded or charged. Alternatively, you can hold the Crone in reserves and Deep Strike it - flying monstrous creatures are swooping when they arrive from deep strike - or come in from your table edge to try and catch out faster moving enemies. Either way is a viable tactic, but I prefer to keep it on the board for that ever crucial target saturation, personally.

    Best Uses

    Again, the Crone is well suited to a support role and for clearing out your enemies' smaller infantry units in combat. A Crone, with Smash, can destroy light to medium vehicles - though walkers with power fists should be avoided - and take on five strong or less infantry units equivalent to Tactical Marines, though it can take on larger units of Fire Warriors or Eldar Guardians pretty effectively. Use its Vector Strike against AV12 side armour or lower vehicles and Toughness 4 multiple wound models - like Crisis Teams and medium-sized Tyranids - and the Drool Cannon to mop up squads of 4+ armoured infantry. The Tentaclids should be reserved for heavy vehicles with side armour thirteen or higher where your Vector Strike becomes inefficient, or for flyers that can also be dealt with through the Vector Strike. All of this makes the Crone an unparalleled monster in terms of versatility in the Tyranid codex, and it is darn cheap to boot. Ideally, a standard Tyranid list with Exocrines, Tyrannofexes, other Harpies and Crones and so on is suited for massacring light to medium infantry in droves, which means your Crones are better left for vehicle hunting, something the rest of the army struggles with at long range. Use the Tentaclids as one of the Hive Fleets' best defences against flyers and AV14 vehicles, but always try and Vector Strike wherever possible without dangerously exposing the Crone itself. I prefer not to take too many risks with these things and move up into advanced cover in the first turn, preparing for a "fly-by" on the second turn and onwards. Many opponents will expect you to try and Vector Strike on turn one and attempt to counter that with their own flyers and unit positioning, so don't fall for the bait and instead disillusion them by doing it in the turn you prefer. The Crone may lack the support capabilities of a Harpy when making a charge, but it nonetheless makes up for it in offensive prowess; if you do have four or more flying monstrous creatures, don't be afraid of aggression. I still recommend using the first turn to get into position so as to not over-extend and end up in the sights of all the enemies' guns, but if it means sacrificing a cheap monster so the rest of your swarm can advance unharmed, it may be worth it.

    Recommended Builds

    These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.

    Hive Crone - I really think a Hive Crone doesn't need or want any upgrades, simply because none of them will actually help it with any issues or roles it has. It is already an incredibly versatile monster that doesn't want to be in combat except against weak units or vehicles, an area where those Biomorphs really aren't necessary. The extra ranged weapons aren't really worthwhile once you consider the Crone's five weapons as well as the Vector Strike.

    Death from Above

    In the cold emptiness of the void, the countless bio-ships of a Hive Fleet slowly traverse the galactic plane in search of new worlds to feast upon. It is in this period of transition where much of a Swarm is yet unborn or in stasis that the Hive Crones, great winged scions of the Hive, glide effortlessly through the darkness as sentient guardians of the Hive Fleet. Controlled by the indomitable will of the Hive Mind, these monstrous predators can tear all manner of enemy vessels apart through strength or numbers alike. But it is when the Hive Crones descend like a meteorite from the heavens alongside numberless Mycetic Spores that the true danger they pose becomes exposed. Created to dominate the skies, Hive Crones are singular in their purpose and as efficient as any other creation of the Hive Mind. The utter destruction of all aerial threats will only see a temporary lapse in the death toll as a Crone then rakes at the ground, causing havoc and terror in equal proportions.

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 03-12-2014 at 04:14 AM.
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  8. #28


    Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! Spore Mines are certainly one of the more unique units in the Tyranid codex, lacking any kind of real usability outside of exploding if they make it into combat. They are incredibly one-note and are generally best left for Harpies and Biovores to spawn. I hope you enjoy this article!

    Spore Mine Clusters


    I have a query for you. Without considering any special rules, would you take a unit where each model has no Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Attacks, ranged weapon or saving throw, and every single other stat is a 1 - including Strength, Toughness, Wounds and Leadership - all for the same cost as a Hormagaunt? If you answered no, then you have the right idea. If you answered yes, well, you probably have your reasons. This is why I find Spore Mines rather intriguing; they really aren't a unit you would go out of your way to include, but are instead perfect as free "reinforcements" when supplied by missed Biovore and Harpy shooting. Their stats are obviously the worst in the game, but that doesn't really make a difference to how you would use them - or at least, most of the stats don't. Being Toughness 1 with no save outside of applicable cover is horrendous and restricts Spore Mine Clusters to only one use outside of being generated by Biovores and Harpies. As you would expect, the special rules do make a difference here. Fearless doesn't matter outside of immunity to Pinning and the inability to voluntarily go to ground, both of which don't really matter anywhere as Spore Mines being shot at even with cover are probably dead anyway when lasguns - yes, lasguns - wound them on 2s.

    What you will be interested in, however, are the three other special rules. As the name implies, Spore Mines explode once they get into combat, from little to devastating effect. At the Initiative 10 step of the fight sub-phase, the entire Spore Mine unit is removed from play, placing a large blast over one of them in the process. The Strength of this large blast is equal to four plus the number of Spore Mines in the unit beyond the first, with the Strength value capped at ten. Hits from the large blast Ignore Cover and are AP4, meaning they will utterly annihilate any infantry with a 4+ armour save. Sadly, the maximum unit size of six means the highest Strength you can get to is nine, meaning no Instant Death shenanigans against Toughness 5 monstrous creatures. But hey, they can still harm vehicles and inflict Instant Death on the ever prominent Toughness 4 multiple wound models - mostly found ironically in the Tyranid army. The potential applications of this are pretty high, obviously, though a unit cap of six and their pitiful defensive stats means they usually won't make it into combat with any kind of decent numbers. Generally speaking, the D3 created by missed Harpy or Biovore shooting is most likely to get into combat untouched, especially as they can charge on the turn they "arrive". If you manage to get even two into combat with a vehicle that will take hits on an armour facing of ten then even two Spore Mines can potentially get a penetrating hit through. If you can get six through - remember, walkers are the only vehicles that can Overwatch unless you count the passengers of transports with fire points - then you will see a whopping Strength 9 hit on a vehicle that can lead to some hilarious results, even if the lack of AP2 or AP1 means the damage result isn't modified.

    The key to their explosions, of course, is their mobility; their survivability is the worst of any unit in the game, so being able to make it to enemies is understandably difficult. Thankfully, Spore Mines can Deep Strike, giving them the ability to act as ridiculously cheap Deep Striking annoyance units. While they can never be scoring or denial units, not conferring any kind of Victory Points means you can be extremely aggressive with them and not care at all about mishaps - remember, the largest squad of these costs less than a bare-bones ten-strong Termagant unit! They are so cheap that you can throw them into an army list instead of taking a few extra "filler" upgrades and have a little unit that will either distract your opponent ever so slightly or take out the bulk of a medium to light infantry unit. There's literally no reason not to Deep Strike. Unfortunately, there is one last issue for these living bombs to contend with; all of their infantry movement is halved. They move 3" instead of 6" and halve all Run and random charge length distances. Did I mention they should never be deployed on the board? Deep Strike them right next to units, ignore the fact they might mishap and just try and throw a spanner in the works with your sub-50 point unit. Literally, that is the only use to this unit.

    They are a weird one as they do present a nifty little tactical option, but the reality is that one split-firing Broadside Battlesuit will statistically kill an entire unit of these things in one round of shooting, leaving maybe one alive out of six if they don't have cover saves. They die so easily that they can't really be considered a proper distraction unit, especially as they are unlikely to do anything on the turn they arrived plus the one after due to their halved movement and charge distances. Even if they manage to Deep Strike 2" away from a Necron Warrior unit, those Necrons can just move 6" away and shoot at something else. An 8" gap here will mean that the Spore Mines will have to roll a 10 on their 2D6 random charge length to reach the Necron Warriors. Not that great, is it? This is why I think you should just leave Spore Mines alone, except to keep some handy if you are using Biovores and Harpies. Those two units will miss - though the latter will do so very rarely - and when they do, having those Spore Mine models handy can lead to some really funny and even game-breaking moments as you end up killing the unit you thought would escape harm. If they weren't so fragile and slow even with Deep Strike, these might have a place, but as it is, those Fast Attack slots are really valuable - especially with the new Skyblight Swarm dataslate - and I recommend filling them with something else. Take these only if you have a spare slot and nowhere to spend upgrade points on.

    Best Uses

    Undeniably the only real way to use Spore Mine Clusters as their own unit is to Deep Strike them. Leaving them in your backfield with the intention of scaring opponents away from an objective won't work as they are Toughness 1 models with a single wound per model and no save, other than applicable cover. Any kind of shooting will kill them pretty much instantly and even the most paltry shooting will have absolutely no difficulty getting rid of these things, especially as they are Fearless and thus cannot go to ground for boosted cover saves. By the same token, you can't try and move them up the field to be used as a distraction unit as even the most wasteful shooting from a pitiful ranged unit will get rid of them before they ever get close enough to do anything. Remember, Spore Mines are slow, incredibly so. Deep Strike them. The tactical possibilities you get from Deep Striking them are great and all, but hey, you can actually get a unit that does something. Isn't that marvelous?

    Six Deep Striking Spore Mines are a ridiculously cheap sub-50 point unit that will more than likely be ignored if you play an aggressive Tyranid list as, generally, an opponent will have far more pressing issues to deal with from your other units. If they somehow get targeted by Interceptor fire, they've already done their job. They will die, but that will be a unit or emplacement that can't shoot at your other units in the shooting phase - you know, the ones that cost more than a third of a century. If they get shot on the opponents' turn instead, the same logic applies as it is less stuff shooting at your valuable units. If they charge a unit alongside another Tyranid unit and you resolve the Spore Mines first, you can play some good mind games with Overwatch. Sure, they have a maximum charge range of 6", but potentially forcing your opponent to risk sacrificing Overwatch against the other unit or just resolve it against the Spore Mines is a victory in every way. Heck, if they get into combat, they will pay for themselves instantly. In reality, this is a unit that is less than 50 points for six models that will either force your opponent to shoot at them, or get into combat and literally make mince meat of an infantry unit. Not bad at all!

    Recommended Builds

    These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.

    Spore Mine Clusters (6) - Spore Mines are ludicrously cheap but also easily the most fragile unit in the game, meaning that you need to take a maximum sized unit if you have any hopes of them at least doing something in a game. Whether they eat a round of Overwatch fire so another unit can charge unharmed, take Interceptor shooting to spare your main forces or somehow make a charge, they are so cheap as a tiny little annoyance unit that can pulverize 4+ armoured infantry units with ease.

    Mindless Artillery

    As Tyranid organisms and pods rain from the skies, millions of lesser creatures descend almost unbeknownst to the defenders of a world. These seemingly harmless beings drift aimlessly around their point of impact, grouping together as if driven by a distinct gestalt consciousness from the Hive Mind. It is only when the foolish or unwary close with these creatures that their true purpose becomes all too clear; they are living bombs, exploding in a detonation of volatile toxins and acid. Many of them famously guard the gestation pools, the hidden feeding grounds of a Swarm ready to be delivered to the lingering Hive Fleet. Though they are seemingly utterly mindless, they are clear and effective in their lone purpose.

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 03-14-2014 at 03:02 AM.
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  9. #29


    Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! Carnifexes are the brutish living tanks of the Tyranid Hive Fleets, created to batter down walls and ram through gates with brutal efficiency. As siege monsters, Carnifexes are the bulkiest of the Tyranid monstrous creatures, sacrificing both raw size and agility for incredible strength and a thickly armoured carapace. These are the oldest and most common war engines of the Tyranids, and the famous monsters have finally been restored to their former glory. I hope you enjoy this article!



    What is the name of that popular Drowning Pool song? Let the bodies hit the floor? There's no denying how well that song meshes with violence of any kind, but watching monstrous Carnifexes tear all manner of enemies to pieces in record time is perhaps the most satisfying event to play the song to. These are the "troopers" of the Tyranid monstrous creatures, with a good analogy that Carnifexes are as Tactical Marines while Trygons and Tyrannofexes are as Vanguard Veterans and Sternguard Veterans, respectively. They have a pretty standard profile for a Tyranid monster, though they are only of only two to have a mere four wounds alongside the Hive Tyrant. Paired up with the almost obligatory Toughness 6 and 3+ armour save, the Carnifex is one of the least durable Tyranid monsters, particularly once psychic powers and the like are thrown into the mix where the Hive Tyrant does edge ahead. However, the Carnifex is also the cheapest of the Tyranid monstrous creatures, clocking in at almost half the cost of a stock Trygon Prime. For points per Toughness 6 3+ armoured wound, Carnifexes are the second lowest - though there is a sizable gap between them and the impressive Mawloc. This actually makes them one of the more durable units per point in the Tyranid army even despite their middling Weapon Skill and general lack of wounds compared to other Tyranid monsters.

    With all that said, how do they do in terms of offensive output? Carnifexes remain the "generic" generalist monstrous creature that is decent at everything but not great at anything, save destroying tanks which is something they do better than any other Tyranid. This is due to their incredible base Strength 9 that often means they don't even need to Smash for Strength 10 and re-rolling failed armour penetration rolls to destroy vehicles, while also allowing them to inflict instant death on Toughness 4 models without halving their attacks. On that note, Carnifexes have had their base attack value reduced by one to three which makes them functionally identical when Smashing - you round up statistics in Warhammer 40000 - while variations that combine a ranged weapon with a melee weapon or a second ranged weapon have one less attack than before. However, a higher Initiative value of two gives them some leeway when engaging units armed with Unwieldy high Strength weapons such as power fists and thunder hammers, meaning they don't need to rely on a combination of assault grenades and a successful charge to strike before such weapons. Speaking of their Living Battering Ram special rule, it has been changed from an Initiative bonus on the charge to making their Hammer of Wrath inflict D3 automatic hits instead of just one. While this may seem like a down-grade at first, when one considers that a Carnifex is Strength 9, potentially inflicting three automatic Strength 9 hits per Carnifex can be devastating. Medium to Light Vehicles can be easily destroyed just through Hammer of Wrath from a Carnifex, with the special rule giving them a massive boost against Walkers that would typically inflict a lot of damage on a Carnifex before it could strike.

    Their melee weapons, however, have seen a decrease in usefulness. Scything Talons no longer affect Tyranid monstrous creatures at all save when used to provide an extra attack by having two pairs of melee weapons, while Crushing Claws no longer provide an extra D3 attacks and instead provide a Strength bonus plus Armourbane. While Crushing Claws did drop in points, gaining potentially three extra Strength 9 AP2 attacks was generally preferable, especially when combined with Smash. The way to go for melee Carnifexes now is to give them the resurgent Adrenal Glands, an upgrade that now provides Fleet at a slight increase in points over its previous incarnation. Leave them stock with the two pairs of Scything Talons so that they have four attacks per model as before, while adding Fleet and Furious Charge in and all at a lower total cost than a stock Carnifex in the previous codex. Interestingly, despite many Tyranid characters and monsters losing access to some of the now defunct Biomorphs, Carnifexes have actually gained one new option and lost none with Acid Blood thrown into the mix. Sadly, neither this nor Regeneration are worth the points for these lumbering brutes, even though both have arguably improved over their previous versions. Toxin Sacs, of course, have benefited most from the edition switch rather than the new codex, unlike Adrenal Glands, with the changes to Poison rules actually giving them a reason to exist as an option for Tyranid monstrous creatures. A Strength 9 model will wound 99% of the models in the game on a 2+ and gain re-rolls to boot in close combat, an upgrade that helps to make up for the loss of free re-rolls to hit from Scything Talons.

    In regards to ranged options, the Carnifex brings the same weapons to bear as always; it can take cheap twin-linked deathspitters, the amazing twin-linked brain leech devourers, or one of two 'cannons' in the form of the Stranglethorn Cannon and the Heavy Venom Cannon. While the brain leech devourers remain the best ranged weapon option available to Carnifexes, the low cost of both the Stranglethorn Cannon and Heavy Venom Cannon, as well as their boosted range over the other two guns for the purposes of wound allocation and maximum range, make them worthwhile investments. From there, the changes to Carnifexes are mostly arbitrary; their assault grenade upgrade adds a pathetic but essentially free little shooting attack, while Bio Plasma is unchanged and thus still not really worth your time. The boost to Initiative 2 bears repeating though, especially as the current Space Wolf codex still allows for the disgusting Jaws of the World Wolf to be used; instead of failing on a three or higher against this test or die power, they instead fail on a four or higher which is a decent improvement. However, the most negative change comes in the form of Instinctive Behaviour, specifically the new Feed table. Carnifexes remain the only Tyranid monstrous creature that can be taken in broods instead of just solo, and it is still arguably their defining trait. Instead of just gaining Rage and suffering no other ill effects when they fail an Instinctive Behaviour test, Carnifexes that fail and are in a unit of more than one model will actively eat each other, inflicting automatic Strength 9 hits on each other and being unable to perform any other actions! This is a horrible result and one that forces them to stay in Synapse range more than ever, though suffering from Rage otherwise still limits their shooting and gives them a charge bonus as normal.

    Now, compared to the previous codex, the same problems are obviously still apparent; the Carnifex is a generalist that isn't really that great outside of one or two specific builds, and even then its mediocre profile and lack of deployment options limit its effective roles. It is still a slow monster that is vulnerable to Blind tests and Unwieldy high Strength weapons, and has gained nothing to make it more durable against heavy weapons firepower - the loss of guaranteed Catalyst does hurt, even if the power itself improved. But here is the catch, and something that makes Carnifexes one of the stars of the new codex and rightfully so. They have seen a massive points decrease per model, with a stock Carnifex dropping a whopping 25% of their previous points total. With upgrades either getting cheaper or remaining virtually identical to before, the Carnifex has seen a massive improvement based not on stat changes or equipment changes like some other units - like the new Greater Daemons, for example - but instead through a necessary cost decrease that sees them at the price point they always should have been.

    Put simply, you can take a single Carnifex for every four naked Tyranid Warriors in your army, giving you one of the cheapest monstrous creatures in the game that further distinguishes itself through number of upgrades and diversity of roles through equipment. That you can now field three stock Carnifexes for less than what you would have paid for two "Dakkafexes" (Carnifexes armed with two twin-linked brain leech devourers) in the old codex is simply astonishing and, with the increased defensive benefits provided by Venomthropes and general points drops across the codex, sees the resurgence of these great beasts. While I do feel the Tyrannofex is the star of the Heavy Support section and the codex, the Carnifex is a close contender; it mashes vehicles like no other, it is incredibly cheap and cost effective and can be adapted as a combat monster or as a devastating gun platform. I'm so glad that these iconic walking tanks have returned to the fore and to the army lists of Tyranid players everywhere; hopefully this is a reminder to Games Workshop of what writing good rules for all units, especially the iconic ones, can do for everyone's morale.

    How to Equip Them

    Carnifexes are one of the most customizable monstrous creatures available to Tyranids, able to be catered heavily towards either ranged or melee combat. The stock equipment for these highly mutable models is two sets of Scything Talons that, unfortunately, serve no purpose other than to provide the Carnifex with an extra attack. Their only use is to provide an extra attack when paired together or with Crushing Claws, so you can pretty freely replace them as you please. Speaking of the crab claws, these are a bit of an oddity. They give +1 Strength to make the Carnifex Strength 10 which, understandably, is pretty ridiculous. They also confer Armourbane to all of its melee attacks that, when paired with that ridiculous Strength value, will see it tear anything with an armour value to shreds in a single assault phase. The points cost is very reasonable here, especially as a Carnifex with these and Scything Talons will have five Strength 10 AP2 attacks on the charge plus D3 Strength 9 Hammer of Wrath hits, as opposed to five Strength 9 AP2 attacks. The bonus to Strength only really makes a difference against wraith constructs and Toughness 5 multiple wound models, as the Armourbane bonus kind of makes that extra point of Strength superfluous against vehicles.

    This is obviously great, but the thing is, you can achieve similar effects through Smash without paying for the Crushing Claws, sacrificing an attack for four Strength 10 attacks on the charge that re-roll failed armour penetration rolls. Unless you have bad luck with dice rolls and face lots of AV14 vehicles, Smash with the re-rolls to vehicle penetration rolls are suitable enough, while losing a single attack to get Strength 10 generally isn't a bad thing with four attacks per Carnifex on the charge. Heck, the D3 Strength 9 Hammer of Wrath attacks can often destroy vehicles by themselves! Crushing Claws have the advantage of being cheap, but I think I would prefer some of the Biomorphs over them as the latter upgrades actually do bring something unique to the Carnifex, not a slight boost on something it already does well.

    This is where Biomorphs such as Adrenal Glands really come into the fore for Carnifexes. Much like any other walking monstrous creature that is primarily assault based, melee Carnifexes should almost always be packing Adrenal Glands for the crucial Fleet bonus. At the same points cost as Crushing Claws, Adrenal Glands provide Fleet and one turn of Strength 10 attacks, providing some of the offensive benefits while allowing the Carnifex brood to re-roll Run and random charge length distances. For any assault-based unit, actually making it into combat is key, and Fleet is a Tyranid monstrous creature's best bet outside of wings - an option that, sadly (if for the sake of humour) Carnifexes are lacking. The seemingly minimal speed boost does make a big difference, especially when you have to make a clutch 7" or longer charge, or just simply can't afford to roll low at any given point. Failing a 5" or 4" charge is definitely not outside the realm of possibility, so having a re-roll for melee Carnifexes is most definitely pivotal.

    Others such as Toxin Sacs provide more combat-oriented benefits, such as re-rolls to wound against anything in the game that hasn't been buffed to Toughness 10 through Iron Arm - the only such case outside of gargantuan creatures is the Great Unclean One. It is a cheap upgrade that maximises the combat efficiency of melee Carnifexes, though ultimately it is unnecessary. If you want to keep the Carnifexes cheap when considering the almost mandatory Adrenal Glands, you can afford to leave Toxin Sacs behind as I feel the Fleet bonus is more important here. Still, having a Carnifex with both Fleet and re-rolls to wound in close combat for fifteen points less than a Carnifex in the previous codex with no such upgrades is nothing to sniff at, certainly. I would avoid Acid Blood and Regeneration though as the former is mostly wasted points on a unit that not only gets better offensive stats out of Toxin Sacs but will also lose most of its wounds against ranged attacks, while the latter is an incredibly expensive upgrade that isn't nearly as valuable on a four wound model as it is on a six wound model. While having broods of Carnifexes can make Regeneration "safer" in the sense that you can switch their positions between phases, too many armies are capable of killing a Carnifex each turn with ease. Those points are best left for Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs, or saved to be spent elsewhere.

    Of course, the Carnifex is not solely a melee monstrous creature but can be given a variety of ranged weapons. There are four of these in total, two of which use high rate of fire and twin-linking to put out lots of accurate high Strength shots, while the others provide large or small blasts with Pinning or a ridiculous Strength value, respectively. Remember that each of a Carnifex's Scything Talons can be exchanged for a monstrous bio cannon, meaning you can give it two ranged weapons just like a Hive Tyrant. The first and cheapest of these weapons are twin-linked deathspitters, a weapon that pales considerably to the slightly more expensive twin-linked brain leech devourers. The former brings three Strength 5 AP5 shots at 18", while the latter provides six Strength 6 AP- shots at 18". AP5 only works against units that have a weak armour save anyway, while the extra point of Strength and double the number of shots is always preferable. It is for this reason that if you were to choose between either of these weapons, I would always take the brain leech devourers without fail. The option to take twelve Strength 6 shots that re-roll to hit with an 18" range for the cost of a single Tyranid Warrior is downright ridiculous and should be your preferred weapon load-out for ranged Carnifexes.

    The latter two weapons that use large blast and small blast templates respectively are the Stranglethorn Cannon and Heavy Venom Cannon, the former which is identical in cost to a brain leech devourer and the latter which is only marginally more expensive. These weapons have double the range of the brain leech devourers and deathspitters, but their strict offensive output is generally lower - at least in regards to the devourers. A large blast with Strength 6 and AP5 is certainly decent, but having six twin-linked shots with AP- is almost always better except against light infantry hordes that aren't individually spaced out. That the brain leech devourers can also target zooming flyers and swooping flying monstrous creatures gives them utility as decent anti-air weapons. The main advantage of the Stranglethorn Cannon is that it has the Pinning special rule which is always useful, though without penalties to Leadership like the Horror it isn't that likely to do much.

    The Heavy Venom Cannon's draw is Strength 9 and AP4, able to instantly kill Toughness 4 models on the spot and ignore a lot of armour. That it is a small blast means it isn't really effective against infantry provided they are spaced out 2" from another, with the small blast only really able to hit one or two models at most without favourable scatter. This is generally a different matter against vehicles, with a small blast on Ballistic Skill 3 still able to at least touch a vehicle with an average scatter roll; any hit with a Strength 9 weapon is pretty darned good, though the AP4 means it is mostly good just for stripping hull points. Truth be told, the extra range is nice over the brain leech devourers, but those also have far more utility with anti-air potential as well as re-rolls to hit to make up for the Carnifex's mediocre Ballistic Skill. The short range generally isn't that big of an issue as long as you take multiple monsters in a brood so that they are a difficult target to shift; just Run into position from the get-go.

    Of course, no article discussing Carnifexes would be complete without referring to its unique upgrades. Carnifexes are still one of a handful of Tyranid units with access to assault grenades, with Spine Banks being their own particular form of this pivotal assault upgrade. This is a very cheap upgrade that allows Carnifexes to strike at Initiative 2 instead of Initiative 1 on the charge which generally is only helpful against models that are affected by Unwieldy, other Tyranid monsters and Necron characters with warscythes. I find that while Spine Banks are ridiculously cheap and striking before power fists is always handy, the examples of where the Spine Banks would really be useful are few and far between, particularly as there is never a guarantee that a Carnifex would be charging into cover in the first place. If the Carnifex was Initiative 3 or higher I would consider this more, but as it is, it only really helps it against power fists and thunder hammers. It also comes with a Strength 3 small blast that lacks any AP value and has a 6" range, something that is downright forgettable as charging an enemy at that minimal range is almost always preferable. For the points though, I guess you can't really complain.

    Bio Plasma also makes a return in all of its mini plasma cannon glory, providing a Strength 7 AP2 small blast with a puny range of 12". I wasn't a fan of this weapon in the old codex and even with the Carnifex itself dropping in points I still don't see the value of it; the upgrade itself may work out cheaper than before overall but it still doesn't compare to the many superior ranged weapon options. A 12" range puts your Carnifex in assault range, for one, while Ballistic Skill 3 and a lack of Ignores Cover make it very unreliable. A small blast template isn't ideal for hitting anything but medium to large sized vehicles, and its Strength 7 isn't that high. When you can get six twin-linked Strength 6 AP- nothing shots for five points less that also have a 6" higher range and can be used as Snap Shots and during Overwatch is pretty insulting. It is a cool and thematic upgrade, but one that is severely handicapped compared to the other ranged weapons a Carnifex can take. The final batch of upgrades added to the new codex are two tail weapons, the Thresher Scythe and Bone Mace. The first adds a Strength 4 AP4 Rending attack to the Carnifex that, while seemingly decent, is only slightly less costly than Crushing Claws which make all of a Carnifex's attacks Strength 10 and Armourbane, making it rather pointless. The latter confers a Strength 8 attack that is slightly more expensive but also much more valuable, particularly for destroying vehicles; remember that monstrous creatures ignore the Unwieldy special rule. Unfortunately, this too is a rather silly upgrade as, again, you could just take Crushing Claws instead for the same exact cost and get far more benefits. Extra attacks are nice, but not when their stats are lacking - the inability to combine Smash with Tail Biomorphs makes them pretty lacklustre on monstrous creatures. You should just take Crushing Claws, or better yet, Adrenal Glands, for the same cost.

    Where to Put Them

    Carnifexes are best deployed as close to the edge of your deployment zone as possible while also providing them a cover save. This is because they are mostly medium to short ranged fighters that can bring most of their weapons to bear in the 18" or lower mark. Even when kitted out for ranged combat, their melee prowess as a brood is still highly useful with base Strength 9 and four attacks per model on the charge. This means you really need them to get up close as quickly as possible which is best done by using up that deployment zone as much as possible; position them in the furthest forward piece of terrain, or behind it, or even near a terrain piece just outside of your deployment zone. 3+ armoured Toughness 6 wounds are nice and all, but concentrated heavy firepower will still be rid of them rather easily, so making full use of cover is necessary despite the slight mobility penalty it imposes. Adrenal Glands are always a good upgrade for Carnifexes in this regard, allowing them to maximise their Run moves as they make it into advanced positions.

    Carnifexes should be spaced out 2" from each other wherever possible so that large and small blast weapons like battle cannons and plasma cannons can't get easy hits on two or more members of a brood. Their large base sizes make it impossible for a small blast to hit more than two Carnifexes from the same brood, and ditto with a large blast provided they use the unit coherency distance to full effect. Their bulky models make for excellent cover provided by the intervening model rules for other Tyranids, particularly vulnerable Synapse creatures such as Zoanthropes or Warriors. A single Venomthrope can hide behind a Carnifex and be completely obscured in the frontal arc, giving out Shrouded to the unit so long as that one Carnifex survives. This can mitigate the need for using cover and give the Carnifexes a slight speed boost as a result. Using a wall of Carnifexes for units such as a Hive Tyrant and Tyrant Guard provides the valuable HQ and Synapse unit with mobile cover, an invaluable tool for any Tyranid player.

    Best Uses

    I feel the best implementation of Carnifexes into a Tyranid Swarm is to employ them either in pairs or in trios, and from there have just Adrenal Glands or two sets of twin-linked brain leech devourers. The three main advantages a Carnifex has over all other Tyranid monstrous creatures is its adaptability in regards to upgrades, its low cost per model and the capability to be taken in units of up to three models. Two stock Carnifexes are only slightly more expensive than a single Trygon Prime, while you can fit in three for just over half a century of points than the Swarmlord alone. They are tied with the Hive Tyrant for the least survivable Tyranid monstrous creature on foot, but they are also significantly cheaper than all other monstrous creatures - save the Mawloc, where the difference is less pronounced. My belief is that there is no reason not to exploit this, similar to how Necrons can get ridiculously cheap units of three wound, Toughness 6 monstrous creatures. Carnifexes are an iconic unit but one that is considered the closest analogy to "fodder" out of the Tyranid monstrous creatures; they are akin to a cheapish brick wall that you can throw into any army list. Pairs and trios of Carnifexes bring lots of wounds and damage output that no single Tyranid monstrous creature can match.

    As far as the weapons and upgrades are concerned, melee Carnifexes don't really need Crushing Claws unless you regularly face Land Raider spam army lists. These kinds of broods are more dependent on Adrenal Glands for Fleet that give them a speed that, when potentially combined with up to three monstrous creatures in a brood, can be downright terrifying for all but the most arduous of gunlines. The other melee upgrades are unnecessary for a unit that is universally Strength 9 in combat and even adds D3 Hammer of Wrath attacks at Strength 9 to their already impressive close combat potential. A walking brood of fast monsters that can reliably make it into combat due to Fleet re-rolls is definitely not something most players want to be facing. The other popular unit of Carnifexes is the holdover from the last edition, the "Dakkafex" armed with two twin-linked brain leech devourers. This unit puts out an absolutely insane amount of medium Strength shooting that is able to tear apart light vehicles, infantry of all kinds and monstrous creatures with almost unparalleled efficiency. They are cheap for what they bring to the table and are almost a must-take, even if the loss of Mycetic Spores has limited their overall usefulness somewhat. These units should both be making Run moves in the first two turns of the game until they get into assault or shooting range, unleashing their devastating offensive potential on any unit that is unfortunate enough to be in their sights. Aside from common deathstar builds, three Carnifexes - even ranged ones - can deal with almost anything in combat with little difficulty, while those armed with brain leech devourers form the most impressive Tyranid fire-base you can find.

    Recommended Builds

    These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.

    Carnifexes (3) - Two with Two Twin-Linked Brain Leech Devourers, One with a Stranglethorn Cannon and One Twin-Linked Brain Leech Devourer - This is what I like to call the "Fexstar". This unit will run you well over the four hundred point mark but is undeniably worth every point spent. You get a whopping 30 Strength 6 Twin-Linked shots at 18", capable of annihilating almost anything that isn't AV13 or higher that gets too close - and those vehicles won't stand against 3D3 Strength 9 Hammer of Wrath hits and 12 Strength 9 attacks on the charge! The lone Stranglethorn Cannon is there to give the Carnifexes a 36" ranged weapon to get around the whole allocating wounds and maximum range issue, while also giving a pretty nasty Pinning Strength 6 AP5 Large Blast weapon. You can either just Run into range or take some early pot shots with the Stranglethorn Cannon before you get within 18". Your choice!

    Carnifexes (3) - All with Adrenal Glands - While this unit isn't that much cheaper than the one listed above and is obviously completely null in terms of ranged damage, its speed and melee prowess is just frightening. Twelve Toughness 6 wounds with 3+ armour saves and Fleet for re-rolling Run and Random Charge Length rolls? Oh, did I mention that the unit puts out 15 Strength 10 attacks on the charge after it does 3D3 Strength 9 Hammer of Wrath hits? Holy heck is this unit frightening!

    Carnifexes (2) - Each with Two Twin-Linked Brain Leech Devourers - This is your primary Carnifex unit, one that sacrifices a third monster for the sake of straight efficiency. A third Carnifex can often be overkill on your points limits as well as destroying particular units through both ranged and melee attacks, so having just two works fine here. They can be a particularly nasty bodyguard for a Tyranid Prime and are a surprisingly well priced and damaging unit.

    Living Engine of War

    Of the countless Tyranid sub-species, one has proven to be the most devastating and fearsome of all even though it is by no means the largest or most intelligent. If a garrison manages to push back the hordes of lesser Tyranid organisms, as well as any aerial or ground attacks from Gargoyles and Raveners, they cannot afford to grow over-confident for even a moment. As the Swarm retreats, momentarily weakened and confused, a deafening roar sounds across the battlefield silencing all chance of victory. The earth begins to tremble as a wall of living tanks, great monstrous beasts thickly armoured and incredibly bulky, begin their final march to the walls and gates. In moments the defences are torn down and smashed to pieces, defenders ripped from their vantage points in a sickening feast of gore and blood. These beasts are the Carnifexes, the strongest of all Tyranids and designed solely as engines of destruction.

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 03-18-2014 at 03:58 AM.
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  10. #30


    Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! Biovores are the closest analogy to artillery in the Tyranid army, bombarding enemy positions from afar and out of sight. Their deadly payload is actually a cluster of Spore Mines propelled at ridiculous speeds by various muscle spasms in the Biovore itself. The changes to this mechanic and the Spore Mines themselves serve to make the Biovore a very interesting unit, even before you consider the positive buffs it otherwise received. Though its role in a vehicle-heavy 5th Edition meta was limited, 6th Edition breathed new life into this unit, and the new codex only serves to improve on what was already a great unit in the Heavy Support slot. I hope you enjoy this article!



    When you buy a model for use in games such as Warhammer 40000, you expect them to be....perhaps not worthwhile, necessarily, but at least have a use. To have a point. To have some kind of purpose. And ultimately, this is where the 6th Edition Pyro....

    Oh, right, sorry. This is the Biovore Tactica! Where are my manners? Yes, the names may be similar, the models may be trying too hard to mimic their spiritual frog lieges, but by the Emperor are Biovores just so darn good. It reminds me of an exchange I used to have with my nephew. "What's that, uncle?" "Why, that is a Biovore, dear nephew." "It's so fat and ugly..." "The beauty is on the inside. Remember?" "Yeah, yeah....say, what's that over there? It looks kind similar." "That is the Pyrovore, nephew. You must never use that." Ah, please, forgive that lapse. In any case, yes, Biovores are the good twin, the one that doesn't hide in alleyways and conceal a flamethrower in their tattered leather jacket. In fact, they are easily one of the best value units in the codex not only in regards to their abilities, but the context of 6th Edition where so many players are favouring less vehicles and more infantry. 5th Edition wasn't exactly kind to Biovores even if they were a good unit in certain circumstances simply because vehicles and mechanical transports were the name of the game for the most part, leaving Biovores as almost completely null in many engagements. They didn't exactly fit the bill of an all-rounder choice, especially with the great value Trygons of the time that were so nasty with their Fleet and ridiculous number of attacks.

    I've covered the changes in 6th Edition that make Biovores so much better even without their own rule changes, so I won't go into major detail on that front. Instead, I'll just quickly reiterate why Biovores really launched into a whole new level of competitive usage due to the edition switch; the changes to Barrage rules making them more dangerous, as well as transports being less favourable with less forgiving rules and an inability to capture objectives when embarked. Enemies have to go out in the open, giving the anti-infantry specialist Biovore a new lease on life with something to shoot at. Enter the new codex, and Biovores have managed to improve even more on their previous incarnation, with an extra wound, attack and point of initiative to give them a better rounded stat line. This makes them harder to remove for opponents while also making them less of a push-over in close combat if something manages to corner them.

    However, the biggest change here comes from the reworked Spore Mines that they fire. Clusters of Spore Mines are an interesting but ultimately limited unit because they are incapable of really reaching any unit to force detonation, but Biovores provide a creative solution to this issue. Each time they miss with one of their shots - and yes, a unit of two or more Biovores is still only treated as missing once for this rule - D3 Spore Mines are created. This is a bit more limited than before, but now the Spore Mines can actually be controlled when they are placed. In fact, they can charge on the turn they are "created", leading to some hilarity with multiple charging units. Miss that Fire Warrior squad that is about to face a charge from your Hormagaunt brood? Force them either to Overwatch the nasty Strength 4 minimum AP4 large blast-providing Spore Mines and face the full wrath of the Hormagaunts, or take on the Hormagaunts and eat up that delicious explosion. Just being able to charge an infantry unit and potentially get even one Spore Mine into combat with a Toughness 3 and 4+ armoured infantry unit can pay dividends, often killing more than any single Biovore shot ever could with assumed cover.

    Even without these changes, however, the Biovore would still be a stellar unit as I have already mentioned. They have three Toughness 4 wounds with a 4+ armour save, identical to Tyranid Warriors, but they have the advantage of freely being able to hide behind terrain without wasting many of their talents. They can beat off very light resistance in combat and synergize well with minor scoring Warrior squads in the backfield. The rest of their stats aren't that great with mostly threes and twos across the board, but for a unit that will rarely see combat and is likely to be firing without line of sight anyway, most of these don't really matter. Then, of course, you get to its cannon; a 48" ranged gun that shoots a Strength 4 AP4 Large Blast with the Barrage special rule. When these miss, they create the aforementioned Spore Mines, meaning that even their inaccurate shooting can play in your favour.

    Their only real issue, unless you count the multiple barrage rules as an issue, is their Leadership 6 and Instinctive Behaviour Hunt; a failed Instinctive Behaviour test will see a 50% chance for the Biovores to Fall Back, effective immediately. For a unit that is only there to shoot and will get blown to pieces if they run back into line of sight of enemy units, this is obviously a horrible result; try to pair Biovores up either with solo Zoanthropes or minimalist Warrior broods to safe-guard them. Going back a bit, though, the multiple barrage rules are a bit punishing, especially with how inaccurate a unit that is either Ballistic Skill 3 or firing out of sight. The first shot missing will still spawn Spore Mines, but if you, for example, hit with the first shot but miss with the second shot, you won't get the Spore Mines. It's sad, especially if the entire unit misses, but ultimately this really isn't that much of a negative to weigh out just how good this unit is. All they need is a Synapse unit and some terrain to hide in, and they will always prove a valuable addition.

    Where to Put Them

    Biovores, as the Tyranid analogy to Whirlwinds and Thunderfire Cannons, belongs behind the front-lines and in cover. With the Barrage special rule and a 48" range on their gun, there is literally no reason to not be deploying in a hidden area, whether in the back corner of your deployment zone or in the middle of an open terrain piece. Keep them out of sight, and keep them in cover. Their three Toughness 4 wounds with a 4+ armour save are certainly decent against small arms fire, but with only a maximum of three models in a unit, they can't really afford to get in the sights of massed infantry. Avoiding high Strength weapons is also wise by abusing terrain as, of course, they lack invulnerable saves and Eternal Warrior - issues endemic to all multiple wound models in the Tyranid army.

    A 48" range may not be able to cover the entirety of a standard 6x4 gaming board, but the threat of up to three Strength 4 AP4 Barrage Large Blasts from a unit of Biovores gives them a huge threat zone regardless. Infantry of all kinds, even the Toughness 4 and 3+ armoured kind, are unlikely to invite direct attacks from Biovores if they can avoid it. So, let us recap on what we learned over the past month that I have been reviewing the Hive Mind's children. Keep to cover, stay out of sight when possible. Cover is your friend, so don't waste it. Any terrain you can find in the backfield may as well be labelled "Biovore Paradise". Be sure that if you are taking Biovores that you also take a small brood of Warriors with either a Barbed Strangler or Venom Cannon to provide backfield Synapse and a home-field scoring unit.

    Best Uses

    Unsurprisingly, Biovores are pretty narrow in their effective uses. Strength 4 can't do much at all to vehicles, even with always hitting side armour; you might be able to strip a hull point off here or there, but the natural inaccuracy of these weapons makes it incredibly unreliable. They are there to shoot infantry from afar while hiding out of sight, or at least staying in cover. They are rather pathetic in combat as well by ranking even worse than Tactical Marines, their only saving grace being that they have three wounds per model. The role that Biovores fill is infantry suppression, using the Barrage rules and a Strength 4 AP4 ranged profile to destroy light and medium infantry that have a 4+ or worse armour save. Barrage ignores cover saves provided by intervening models, only allowing them if the model itself has Stealth or Shrouded, or is actually standing in a terrain piece. Pair this up with wounds being allocated from the centre hole of each large blast, and you can use these to try and snipe out special or heavy weapon carriers in squads, or even characters like Sergeants and Ethereals.

    In general, you have yourself a ranged weapon with a very long range that doesn't need line of sight to fire - though doesn't benefit from the Biovore's Ballistic Skill for scatter purposes if this is done - that is death to Toughness 4 or lower and 4+ armoured or lower infantry models. Add in Pinning to lock down units and prevent enemy units from firing at full Ballistic Skill against our other units and despite how narrow the role of Biovores is, you won't regret using them. Squads of Fire Warriors, clusters of Ork Boyz and other such units are their preferred targets, while tougher units such as Wraithguard and Terminators are less invisting as choices.

    Recommended Builds

    These are a few example builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of lists they fit better in.

    Biovores (3) - Biovores are one of the most cost-effective units in the Tyranid codex, with identical durability against ranged attacks compared to Tyranid Warriors that is combined with a devastating anti-infantry shooting attack. The 48" range and Barrage special rule allow you to hide these models pretty easily, so taking a maximum sized squad is hardly an issue at any point.

    Biovores (2) - As with units of three Biovores, a pair of these nasty artillery beasts is great value for points, especially at less than a triple digit figure. A pair is less intensive on points - even though Biovores are inexpensive for what they bring - and also less punishing on the player if they fail a Synapse test or have no viable targets to shoot.

    Bloated Death

    As Imperial positions prepare to repel another Tyranid wave, they will often spot large, plodding beasts off in the distance, advancing seemingly independent of the rest of a Swarm. To mistake these for harmless Synapse nodes or some kind of defensive beast is a mistake that few live to repeat, not once they are disintegrated by blasts from the creatures. These are Biovores, constructs of the Hive Mind that are created to bombard enemy positions from afar, a task that they perform with inscrutable efficiency. Whether they merely suppress enemy positions and prevent them from advancing or firing back at other encroaching Tyranids, or annihilate them in a hail of venomous death, Biovores are among the most dangerous bio-organisms devised by the alien Hive Mind. Much like the dreaded Nebelwerfers made infamous by the shrill shrieking of their shells' descent, the terror evoked by the mere presence of these gun beasts can break even the hardiest of soldiers' resolve.

    Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 03-24-2014 at 03:05 AM.
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