Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New Tyranid Codex - Unit Reviews - Fast Attack

With the exception of Gargoyles the Fast Attack section has never been particularly popular with Tyranid players. This is most likely due to the fact that very few of the units actually had models or required Forge World parts to upgrade (Shrikes). Now there's finally a model for the Harpy which is a dual kit with the new Hive Crone so perhaps things have changed.

Essentially Shrikes are flying Tyranid Warriors both in terms of the models and the rules. Strangely Shrikes have a 5+ save to their footslogging counterparts' 4+. They've taken a 5pt reduction though which essentially means free wings (although the Forge World kit is far from free!). Shrikes have the same options as Warriors but pay less for toxin sacs and flesh hooks (which they can now take) but slightly more for adrenal glands.

It's difficult to see a role for Shrikes. They're Synapse Creatures like Warriors but obviously aren't scoring most of the time and have most of the same weakness as Warriors. They're not awful though and could find us as mobile Synapse for faster moving units which get out of range of the bigger Synapse Creatures.

Raveners (& Red Terror)
Another unit hit hard by the loss of scything talon re-rolls, Raveners are a combat unit in a world of shooting. They aren't too bad if you can get them into combat and being Beasts there's a decent chance. They don't particularly pack a punch though. They've always been looked upon as mini Trygons and that's probably a reasonable comparison as they too can Deep Strike. Another unit with nothing particularly wrong with it but without the scything talon re-rolls they're probably confined to the shelf next to your genestealers.

The Red Terror makes a return from the aether with a reasonable price tag of 85pts for a T5 three-wound model with Character. Swallow Whole is a fun idea and a great way of getting rid of a pesky power fist to protect your Raveners. There's a reasonable chance of getting it off on the charge too with 6 attacks at WS6 (4 base, two pairs of talons and charge bonus). He's difficult to ignore if he Deep Strikes in with some Raveners which might buy your footsloggers some time. His inclusion makes Raveners a potentially viable unit at least.

Sky-slasher Swarms
Rippers with wings and also 3pts more expensive for some reason. Like Rippers I really don't see the point in this unit unless to tie up enemy models thanks to Fearless. Most of the stuff you'd want to lock in combat would be S6+ anyway which will prevent them being stuck for long. Once again I rely on veteran Tyranid players to point out their use as I'm struggling.

Another "with wings" unit, this time termagants. Unlike their earth-bound cousins they can't upgrade their weapons though. They've stayed the same cost as before but Blinding Venom works in a different way now. Before a roll to hit of 6 caused an automatic wound, mitigating their S3. Now you swap your attacks for a Poisoned (6+) attack with Blind which isn't as good really. Against Initiative 3 units or those with minimal attacks I suppose you could Blind them and tie them up by preventing return damage but I'm not sure Blind is as good as GW thinks it is. Not bad against units like Riptides with low initiative though and even a single gargoyle in combat with a Riptide could severely hamper its effectiveness next turn should it be out of combat.

Since you get a handful of gargoyles in the Tyranid Swarm boxed set I suspect we'll see them used but I'm not sure they're as good as they were and there are now better Fast Attack options I reckon.

As I mentioned above the Harpy is a dual kit with the Hive Crone. It's inevitable then that players will compare the two to decide which to model the kit as. The Harpy is ostensibly an anti-infantry unit with an S6 large blast from its stranglethorn cannon and spore mines cysts. You can upgrade it to a twin-linked heavy venom cannon but then it becomes anti-tank which doesn't compliment the rest of its arsenal. Like any FMC it's got a decent chance of surviving if you can pass those Grounding Tests but with a T5 and a 4+ save it isn't going to take too long to lose those five wounds.

The Harpy is decent in combat with S5 AP2 attacks, you've still got the option to Smash and Sonic Screech means it's almost a certainty that the Harpy will strike first even against Daemon Princes. That means if you can successfully charge one you've got a good chance of causing Instant Death before the DP strikes. I'd say that's worth some consideration then.

You could potentially Vector Strike a unit and also hit it with Spore Mine cysts which allows you decimate a unit and keep at a decent range to avoid reprisal. Alternatively when Gliding you could fire both an S6 and S5 large blast to soften up a big unit before charging.

Hive Crone
If the Harpy is an anti-infantry unit then the Hive Crone is firmly anti-vehicle. Most notable is that you can Vector Strike another flyer at S8 before firing at another vehicle with the tentaclids. Speaking of which, tentaclids are S5 Haywire and re-roll to hit against other FMCs and flyers. Although you can only fire two off a turn there's the potential to cause 4 glancing hits against a low AV flyer and lucky 6s might bring down a Stormraven or Heldrake. Edit: I must be thinking of 5th ed. Haywire weapons don't roll for armour penetration as well. They just get the haywire effect. That means only one glance/pen per tentaclid not two.

The drool cannon is reasonably useful for softening up ground targets before charging but feels out of place and it would've been nice to see it given Torrent to give it utility from the air. Still for 155pts I think the Hive Crone is a bargain when compared to other FMCs. Like the Harpy, it's lumbered with a 4+ save so it isn't hugely survivable but if there's a couple of these beasts zooming around the board they're certain to attract some attention and they'll be difficult to deal with for a lot of armies.

Spore Mines
At 5pts a piece they're hardly going to break the bank but I'm not sure many will take them. It'd be fun to hit something with a full unit of 6 mines and potentially you could instant-kill a Daemon Prince if it was daft enough to stray to close. Otherwise they're mostly a novelty distraction unit that most players will ignore if possible.

Since they've got shiny new models I expect to see a lot more Harpies than we used to. Mind you the Hive Crone's S8 vector strike is almost enough reason to take it over the Harpy on its own and I suspect a lot will be tempted. I'd actually consider running one of each though as Harpy would be very useful against objective grabbers. Dropping some spore mines on an objective would be irritating and those large blasts, though situational, could prove devastating.

To my mind there's little else worth bothering with in this slot. As I say, Raveners with the Red Terror might be fun to use but gargoyles aren't what they were and the other options don't particularly grab my attention.

At first you might think the flyers will suffer when out of synapse range but both are Fearless. The Harpy may not be bothered by "Prowl/Destroy". The Hive Crone might've used it's missiles already and can still Vector Strike so there's no great loss from Devour/Kill when it's Swooping. I'll be talking more about Synapse after the Heavy Support post which arrives tomorrow.


  1. I'm enjoying your reviews. I see the utility still in Gargoyles as a screening and hampering unit, but even with their speed, it's hard to justify them over 50% more termagants to simply drown a foe in bodies. Also, I think FMCs need to be in multiples to have success, so I see Fast Attack largely consisting of 2-3 Crones and/or Harpies.

  2. Sorry to pick a hole in what is another beautifully written Blog Post but you are incorrect about the 4 Glancing Hits from 2 Tentaclid Missiles. The Rulebook entry for Haywire states;
    " When a weapon with this special rule hits a vehicle, roll a D6 to determine the effect rather than rolling Armour Penetration normally"
    Unfortunately this means that each Tentaclid can only ever do damage once. I've seen this confusion several times online and it is very easy not to pick up on.

    1. You're right, updated the post. Still, it gives them a chance of hurting AV12 flyers and even land raiders which is decent.

    2. Oh they are definitely still decent and I have every intention of including one in my force! I've dug my Tyranids out so if my current army isn't finished in time for the next Blog Wars I will be using my Tyranids I think...

  3. I built my Shrikes with some Gargoyle wings.
    Doesn't look half bad and works for me ^^

    Spore mines could function as distraction units.
    With their flimsy statline they might not be fire magnets, but if one unit is shooting them instead of any of my other units they have done their part.

    You're doing great with these reviews.
    Keep up the good work!!


  4. Really enjoying these reviews :)

    Have to say though, I think you're underestimating Gargoyles. The change in Blinding Venom isn't too bad really. You only get 1 attack anyway on turns you don't charge, so the Poison means you can still harm T7+ units and gives you re-rolls to wound against T3 and lower.

    Regarding the Blind effect, as it stands units have to take a Blind test for each hit with the Blind special rule. When it's only 1 Initiative test it's not too dangerous, but 10 I tests? 20? It would take a lot of luck not to fail.

    1. YES! exactly!
      also Riptides are immune to Blind AFAIK, so bad example in the article.

    2. You're right. Realised this since I wrote it

  5. Nice work, Fang!

    As Arclight says, depending on the target the 'Goyles venom isn't worth using on the charge, but once in combat vs tough units it can turn the tide in their favour. People will still take Gargoyles for the simple reason of them being fast! Incoming fire is a problem for Tyranids, units in assault can't fire so get those Gargoyles in there, perform a disordered charge if poss and tie up two. Very useful if you have 'Stealers or any other incoming unit nearby who can help out fast.

    Raveners I think are still viable with fists and claws. I've been on the receiving end of Beasts Of Nurgle several times and as T3 ranged troops my Tau and Eldar find it terrifying. They move damn fast as Beasts, Raveners can then fire at least 12 twin-linked fist shots and then pile in with at least 15 rending attacks. Brutal against units out of cover.

    Don't forget that spore mines are no longer random movement. :]


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