Codex Review: Tyranids Fast Attack (and some odd behaviors)

It’s that time again; time for another review of the Tyranid codex, and today is the fast attack section.

I am going going to breeze through two of the units, the Tyranid Shrike Brood and the Sky-Slasher Swarm Brood. The Shrikes are basically Warriors with wings, and even cost the same amount of points. You lose objective secured, but gain Jump Infantry. The Slashers are Ripper Swarms with wings, but now they cost 18 points per base. Again, you gain the Jump Infantry unit type. Other than those changes, they are basically the same as the troop options.

Since I covered the units that are like their troop cousins, the next unit I will cover are the Gargoyles. Gargoyles are basically Termagants with wings. The come with the fleshborer, but the only upgrades you can take are Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs. They do come with Blinding Venom. Blinding Venom is a poisoned close combat attack that hits on 6+ and causes blind. Plus, since they are jump infantry they do get hammer of wrath. A weak one, but they could get one. This is a good unit to get somewhere quick and tie up a unit for a good portion of the game.

A unit I just recently ordered, and have yet to receive (at least as of the moment of this writing) is the Ravener Brood. Raveners have a WS5, BS3, S4, T4, W3, I5, Ld6, and a save of 5+ stat line. They cost 30 points per model, making them the Beast version of Warriors (with no synapse range). They come with two close combat weapons (+1 attack) and come with deep strike. They can also be equipped with Rending Claws for 5 points, Spinefists, Devourers, and Deathspitters. This allows you to have some shooting attacks without reducing their close combat attacks.

One Ravener Brood can also include The Red Terror. The Red Terror is just an upgraded Ravener. It comes with everything a Ravener does, plus a Prehensile Pincer and Swallow Whole. The Pincer gives you a S6 AP5 close combat attack. If the Terror hits with at least 4 of its attacks, it can nominate one enemy Infantry, Jump Infantry, or Jet Pack Infantry and attempt to swallow it whole. The nominated model must pass a single invulnerable save if it has one or is removed from play. Bulky models (or larger) cannot me nominated. The Red Terrors stat line is also improved upon the Ravener’s stat line.

One flying MC that has made a return from the old codex, but now has a model is the Harpy. I never used this unit in the old codex, and to be truthful, I don’t really like it all that much in this codex. It comes with a twin-linked stranglethorn cannon, scything talons, and spore mine cysts. It can be upgraded to have a twin-linked heavy venom cannon for 5 points, but since both are blast templates, and the armour of this big guy is 4+, you will not get as much use from the cannons as you would like since you will find yourself jinking a lot. You can also upgrade the Harpy with a Stinger Salvo, Cluster Spines, and other items from the biomorphs list. The Harpy does have one special rule that I find interesting, it has a rule called Sonic Screech. Sonic Screech causes all enemy models to suffer -5 to their initiative (to a minimum of 1) in the assault phase that the harpy charges into combat. But one has to ask, when would you really want this model to charge into combat?

Of course, the Harpy is also armed with spore mine cysts, which create Spore Mine Clusters, another fast unit. When the Harpy creates spore mines, it does so during the movement phase, and must be swooping. The players places the large blast marker over a unit the Harpy swooped over and scatters it D6. Units take a hit for each model that is even partially under the marker. If the blast marker does not hit any units, D3 Spore Mines are placed anywhere under the marker and act as a Spore Mine cluster for the rest of the game. Spore Mines can only move 3 inches, and run or charge half the distance rolled. At initiative 10, they explode. Then every other unit (friend or foe) under the large blast template suffers S4 AP4 hits. And the Strength increases by 1 for each spore mine in the unit. The spore mines are also non-scoring and non-denial units that do not give up any victory points and do not count when resolving assault results.

And now I finally come to the Fast Attack unit I almost always use, the Hive Crone. This unit is the other option in the Harpy box and is the Tyranids best Anti-Air unit. Its stat line is WS3, BS3, S5, T5, W5, I5, A3, Ld10, and a 4+ save (just like the Harpy) but the crone comes with a Drool Cannon, Four Tentaclids, and a set of Scything Talons. The Drool cannon is a S6 T4 Template weapon, and while not great against those tasty space marines, it is devastating against the Orks. The Tentaclids have a range 36 inches, S5, AP5 with Haywire and seeking rules. Seeking allows the played to reroll To Hit rolls against Zooming Flyers and Swooping Flying MCs. The Hive Crone’s vector strike is resolved at S8, making this unit really good going up against air vehicles.

Since this is such a review, I am going to add the Instinctive Behaviors (which I know I never listed on my reviews) to this review. Of course we all know that if a model without synapse moves out of synapse range, they have to take a leadership test or they fall into their Instinctive behavior (except for Genestealers who do not have an IB). The new codex adds a lot of variety to the possibilities.  First, there is Lurk. On a 1-3, the unit is treated as having failed a morale check and must fall back. On a 4 or 5, the seek cover in the movement phase. The unit can run in the shooting phase, but can only shoot if it is in terrain, and the unit cannot assault. On a roll of a 6 the unit seeks cover, but also gains stealth.

If the unit has the IB of Hunt and fails the leadership test, on a D6 of 1-3, the unit Burrows and Hides. This means the unit immediately goes to ground unless one model in the unit has fearless, then the result is treated as Prowl. With Prowl (a roll of a 4 or 5), the unit must shoot in the shooting phase at the nearest enemy unit within range and line of sight. If there is no viable target, the unit can do nothing, and it cannot charge in the assault phase. On a roll of 6, the unit also gains preferred enemy.

If the Tyranid unit has an IB of Feed, the roll of 1 to 3 causes Cannibalistic Hunger. The unit immediately suffers the number of hits equal to the number of models in that unit resolving at the units majority strength and AP-. The owning player allocates wounds and armour saves may be taken, but not cover saves. Units of a single model treat the result as Devour, which is the result on a 4 or 5 roll. With devour, in the shooting phase the unit cannot run or shoot, and in the assault the unit must declare a charge against the nearest viable unit. If there is no such unit to charge, the Tyranid unit does nothing in the assault phase. If the controlling player rolls of a 6, the unit gains the result of Devour, but also gains Rage.

As a Tyranid player, I have to say I like the new Instinctive Behaviors, it adds a lot of randomness to the game. It also has the potential to help the tyranid player as well as hurt them.

Well, that’s it for this review. Next up are the heavy units.

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