We're nearly at the end of this review of the Tyranid codex with just the Heavy Support section left. Of all the slots this is probably the one with the most competition as there are several decent options here. There are a couple which jump out immediately but I think over time we'll start to see some of the less obvious choices making it into lists. This section is also home to one of my favourite models in the whole of 40K, the Mawloc/Trygon, which alone could tempt me into starting a Tyranid army.
One of the things a lot of people are excited about is the whopping 40pt reduction in the cost of each Carnifex. They also got a boost to their Initiative (a big deal vs. power fists) and an extra attack each. Being able to take three of them in a single slot is helpful and some enemy armies will really struggle to remove 12 T6 wounds across the three MCs, especially with Regeneration (although that'd be pricey). With S9 they've always been excellent at taking out enemy vehicles in combat if you can get them close enough. Traditionally though they were taken as "dakkafexes" with lots of firepower and there's no reason for that to stop. Giving each two twin-linked devourers with worms means 36 S6 shots at 18" range, obviously they're only BS3 but with Onslaught you could make them pretty speedy and 15 wounds against marines isn't something to scoff at and it'd be fun to run a unit of three, if expensive.
Living Battering Ram now gives D3 Hammer of Wrath attacks which could be devastating across a unit of 3 fexes. Making them S10 with Crushing Claws is tempting to instant kill anything T5 or lower and cripple any vehicle with ease. You really can make them into literal combat monsters with a bone mace (why is it unwieldy when only MCs can take it and they ignore it?), crushing claws and adrenal glands. Spine Banks seem essential if you're going down this route as they allow you to strike before power fists, thunder hammers and the like.
I could talk for ages about the possible combinations here and with a 'fex in the Swarm kit I'm sure there'll be plenty of them on eBay. Obviously they're slow compared to other units but for the points they bring excellent firepower and durability combined.
With a 5pt price reduction it's tempting to field some Biovores to make use of their Barrage weapons against pesky scoring units. Biovores have also gained an extra wound each, an extra attack and their now initiative 2. Otherwise their role hasn't changed significantly. As I've said, Barrage is great against low toughness units in cover e.g. fire warriors, guardians, etc. and with 48" range it can reach out to most of the board from the relatively safety of its own deployment zone.
Spore mines are slightly different now in that they now move, run and charge like a normal unit (except at half the distance). This gives the Tyranid player a lot more control over them than before. There's the potential to build up the strength of their attack when they eventually charge. This means even if you miss the target you can use the spores to harass an objective holding unit. It's not totally clear about combat resolution but it seems that the spore mines dying doesn't count which means you're likely to make the opposing unit flee. Still they're rather situational and you'd still be hoping that the initial shot from the Biovore hits rather than relying on the spores.
Trygon & Trygon Prime
Although these units now get a separate entry in the codex they're basically the same thing so I'll lump them together. The key difference is that the Trygon Prime is a Synapse Creature (and as such gets Shadow in the Warp) and its bio-electric pulse has containment spines for additional range and 6 extra shots. Nothing really new there except a 10pt cost reduction each. Both are armed with two pairs of scything talons giving them 7 attacks on the charge but again they're missing out on the re-rolls they used to get. You'll still cause a decent number of wounds at WS5 and S6 though. Both still get Subterranean Assault which allows another unit in Reserves to emerge from the same position. The unit arriving effectively counts as having arrived by Deep Strike though in that it can't move or assault. With no way of manipulating reserves to delay them the chances are you'll end up not being able to use the tunnel effectively.
A Trygon Prime emerging in the middle of your lines is a difficult thing to ignore. Partly because it fires off 16 shots when it arrives (albeit at BS3) and partly because it will certainly be charging something next turn thanks to Fleet. Throw in Shadow in the Warp to disrupt psykers and the Prime really needs to be dealt with. If the rest of your army is mostly foot-slogging them the Prime makes a great distraction. With 6 T6 wounds and a 3+ save it isn't particularly easy to shift for most armies but Tau, Eldar etc won't struggle. Still it's all firepower that isn't aimed at your scoring units. The basic Trygon can provide some distraction and is just as good in combat as the Prime but to me it's worth paying 40pts for another Synapse Creature and the opportunity to bring Shadow to your opponent's lines.
As always the Mawloc is significantly cheaper than the Trygon that you can build from the same kit and it's even cheaper now with a 30pt (!) price reduction. It's retained its ability to Burrow and then arrive the next turn by Deep Strike.
The way the Mawloc arrives using Terror from the Deep has changed slightly though it still causes S6 AP2 hits but vehicles are now struck on their side armour instead of their rear. There's also clarifications about units in combat, in multi-level ruins and how wounds are allocated. Contrary to the previous FAQ the hits now ignore cover. Even with the slight changes that's pretty similar so far. Well now things have changed. In the past the Mawloc simply displaced models that had survived its attack. Now though, if there are surviving models in the way prevent the Mawloc from being placed you resolve another large blast marker. If after this second attack there are still models in the way you roll on the mishap table.
That sucks right? I mean you could lose your Mawloc. Well actually 50% of the time it's going to go back into Ongoing Reserves which actually means you get to make another Terror attack next turn which is a huge bonus. Unless you pick a target with a hefty invulvnerable save though I can't imagine you'd find yourself rolling on the mishap table that much. It'd be great fun to target a Farsight bomb with the attack though!
The final new unit, the Exocrine brings some much needed low AP firepower and is a stunning model to boot. Perhaps a little similar to a Biovore and Pyrovore but just different enough I reckon. Anyway, the Exocrine is an "artillery organism" which basically means an MC with a gun strapped to its back. The gun in question fires an S7 AP2 large blast or six S7 AP2 shots at 24" range. That's pretty good in my opinion and being an MC means it's a mobile platform.
Like a lot of the big monsters the Exocrine only has BS3 though which means the Streams fire mode will struggle to cause many hits. However, the Exocrine has an ace up it's sleeve with Symbiotic Targeting which allows it to fire at BS4 when it stays still. It's perhaps a little pricey at 170pts but then you are getting a S6/T6 5 wound MC that wouldn't be too bad in combat should the need arise.
The biggest price drop in the codex comes from the Tyrannofex. The base unit with acid spray is a ginormous 75pts cheaper. Well not quite because the previous version came with a thorax swarm. The t-fex with fleshborer hive is 70pts cheaper but the t-fex with rupture cannon is only 50pts cheaper taking the thorax swarm into account. At least now the thorax swarm is optional so you can keep the cost of the t-fex down. The short range thorax swarms don't really compliment the rupture cannon so if you're taking that then it makes sense to save yourself 10pts. If you're going with acid spray or the fleshborer hive then perhaps the thorax swarm is worth it. Incidentally the stinger salvo compliments the fleshborer hive nicely and effectively gives you a 24-shot 18" range fleshborer. It sounds pretty cool until you realise that with BS3 you'll only get 12 hits.
The rupture cannon would be useful against closely packed vehicles and for instant-killing multi-wound models but with AP4 it isn't especially good at either. I'd actually be tempted to go for the shorter range weaponry, keep the costs down and add another T6 MC to the mix. Some armies simply couldn't hope to deal with a whole pile of big MCs coming at them although others might not have so much trouble. The tyrannofex isn't awful then but probably loses out to better units for similar cost (I think I've said that about a lot of units in this book).
The Trygon Prime, Biovores, Carnifex Brood and Exocrine all stand out as decent units but I think they're all surpassed by the Mawloc. Having units in reserve is always a gamble so perhaps there's an argument for including Swarmy if you want to run three mawlocs but still the potential is there to cause some serious havoc with Terror from the Deep. The current meta features a lot of units on foot and Mawlocs will shine in that arena. If there's a lot of transports though it'll be a different story as you're unlikely to have much in your arsenal to deal with them before the Mawlocs arrive to kill the occupants. They'll be hideous against Tau gunlines though where they can make a real mess of broadsides and crisis teams alike.
Despite several changes in this section and some huge cost reductions I still think it's difficult to choose. As I say, I think most people will opt for Mawlocs but I'd expect to see the odd Biovore or Exocrine thrown in too.
That wraps up all of the units in the new Tyranid codex then. There are just two posts left in my review. Tomorrow I'll talk about Synapse and Instinctive Behaviour before wrapping it all up in a convenient summary and suggesting some lists. I hope people are finding these reviews useful but as ever I mostly write them to try and get my own head around the changes.