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Tyranid 6th Edition Codex - Harpy Review

Updated on January 13, 2014
Tyranids Codex Review 6th Edition
Tyranids Codex Review 6th Edition

Introduction

Welcome back, dear readers, to another 6th edition Warhammer 40k review! Murphy80, here, and this time I'll be taking a look at the new Flying Monstrous Creatures from the brand new Tyranid codex. Specifically, I will be looking at the Harpy first, covering the amazing new model, rules from the codex, and some possible tactics!

If you are looking for a review of the new Tyranid Hive Crone, look for the link at the bottom of this article. Tentaclid missiles? If you like crawling creatures instead, check out my review of the new Haruspex and Exocrine!

I'm going to review the rules for Flying Monstrous Creatures before I get into the specifics of the Harpy. If you are unfamiliar with these rules, I suggest your read through them first. Otherwise, skip down to where you see the new image of the Harpy to get right to the meat of things!

Flying Monstrous Creature

Before we look at the specific rules for the Harpy, we need to review the rules for it's unit type: Flying Monstrous Creature (or FMC). There are some great advantages to this type of creature, while also some major disadvantages that can be taken advantage of by your opponents. I have primarily been playing Chaos Daemons over the last several months (quite successfully, for the most part!), so I have a fair amount of experience running FMCs on the table top - Bloodthirsters, Flying Daemon Princes, etc. Let's check out the rules.

Glide and Swoop

An FMC has two modes of travel and must choose one at the Start of its Movement Phase. For Gliding, it moves just like a Jump Monstrous Creature, which is basically an MC that can move 12" in the Movement Phase and pass over terrain or other models. Technically, it could move a normal 6" in the Movement phase and use its "wings" to re-roll it's charge distance in the Assault phase.

In Swooping mode, however, the creature acts much like a Flyer. It's important to note, however, that it is NOT a Flyer (it's a FMC) and has many different rules.

Deployment - You have a tactical choice here. Unlike a normal Flyer (which MUST come in as Reserves), you may deploy a FMC at the start of the game. If you do so, however, it starts the game in Glide mode. If you are going first, then this is not too much of a problem because you may then decide to change to Swooping at the start of your Movement phase. However, if you are going second . . . you either want to deploy your FMC 100% out of sight (hard to do) or keep it in Reserves. This is because FMC in Glide mode can be hit with any normal attack roll, but in Swooping mode, they are hit only on 6's like Flyers.

Movement - A Swooping FMC must move between 12" and 24" (see, this is slower than standard Flyers!). When Swooping, the model moves over all intervening terrain and models. You must end your movement 1" away from enemy models, but unlike Flyers that will Crash, you can simply switch to Gliding at the start of your movement.

While Swooping, the model may make one 90-degree turn at the start of its movement, just like a Flyer.

Shooting - A FMC may shoot two of its weapons, just like a MC. If equipped with Missiles (like the new Hive Crone), then it may fire up to two missiles, which count towards the total weapons being fired.

Instead of shooting, a FMC may Run 2d6" if it is Swooping.

A FMC also has a 360-degree arc of fire! This is great for short range weapons, including Templates, because you can often hit a unit in one turn, fly over it the next, and then hit it again from behind you . . . something that Flyers often have a hard time doing to their higher movement speed and their limited arc of fire (except the Heldrake, muahahah!)

Hard to Hit - Just like Flyers, FMCs can only be be hit with Snap Shots (6's) and cannot be hit by any Template or Blast weapons. This single rule is what makes FMCs (and Flyers) so terrifying for opponents! Note, any model with the Skyfire rule may hit FMC as normal. It's important to note that according to the GW FAQ, FMCs also gain the Skyfire rule while Swooping, just like Zooming Flyers do . . . so FMCs can shoot at Flyers like normal, and vice versa.

Getting Hit - This is the biggest weakness that FMCs have . . . Grounding Tests. If a swooping FMC is hit by a unit's shooting attack, after the attack is resolved it IMMEDIATELY make a grounding test on a d6. On a 3+, nothing happens. On a 1-2, the FMC is grounded and take a Str 9 hit with no armor or cover saves allowed. Ouch! It also immediately reverts to the Glide status (which means normal attack roles to hit it). Double Ouch! It can also be charged in that following Assault Phase.

The scary thing here is that this happens after every unit hits it. A bunch of rapid-firing bolters, lasguns, or shuriken catapults are probably going to roll a 6, and even if they fail to wound, you still have to make a grounding test . . . every time a different unit hits your FMC. This all sounds very scary, so what is a FMC player supposed to do?

  • Keep your FMC out of range of small arms fire. Use your long-range weapons and fly circles (squares, really) around your own backfield. If your opponent is hoping to ground you with one-dice Heavy weapons like missile launchers or lascannons, let them! Without Skyfire, it will take a lot of luck to hit, let alone ground you.
  • Do the opposite as above. Yes, fly your FMC right at your enemy and smile when he uses multiple units trying to ground you. Why?! Every unit that is targeting your FMC is one less unit that is targeting your squishy units or your walking MCs. Sacrifice a Bishop to put multiple Pawns in play, so to speak. Tip: do this on round 2 or 3 when your other units are ready to charge the opponent. Don't Fly up in your opponent's face in Turn 1 while your 'Gaunts are still tripping over themselves in your deployment zone.

Assault - While Swooping, a FMC cannot charge nor can it be charged. However, in Glide mode, it may assault and gets all the benefits of a normal Monstrous Creature. Since you can change modes at the start of your Movement Phase, you can turn your Swooping FMC into a Gliding one, shoot, and then Assault a unit. Smart to do with the new Tyranids models? Probably not in most cases, but it is an option (one that Daemon Princes do every game!).

Dive! - A FMC that is Hit and Wounded by an enemy shooting attack can Dive and gain the Jink rule (5+ cover), just like a Flyer does. If you do this, however, you can only Snap Fire on your next turn . . . and remember that Template and Blast weapons cannot be fires as Snap Shots (which is important because guess what the Harpy has!).

Vector Strike - One more trick that FMC have is Vector Strike. If they move over an enemy while swooping, they inflict 1d3+1 hits on the unit, resolved at the model's Strength and are AP 3! This attack is resolved on a vehicles Side Armor and can even be done against another Flyer. Also, the FAQ states that NO cover saves can be made against Vector Strikes (which would also include Jink saves for other Flyers!). Note: this does count as 1 weapon already being fired when you start the Shooting Phase, so FMCs can only use 1 more weapon that same turn.

Tyranid Harpy Review 6th Edition
Tyranid Harpy Review 6th Edition

Tyranid Harpy Review

I'm sorry the FMC rules took so long to review! The truth is, however, that most armies do not have FMCs, and many players use the rules for Flyers without realizing that there are subtle, but important differences. Now that we have the FMC rules out of the way, the rules for the Tyranid Harpy will make more sense! Let's swoop right into the stats!

  • WS and BS of 3
  • 5's across the board for Strength, Toughness & Wounds (nice!)
  • Leadership 10 - Important for Synapse tests!
  • Armor of 4+

I mentioned assaulting with FMCs earlier. My Daemons do it all the time. Should you with a Harpy? Probably not, but remember a few things. It still has the Smash rule, so its 3 attacks will be AP 2 and it can halve them to gain 2 Strength 10 hits (3 on the charge, thanks Jonny!). On top of that, it will get an auto-hit at Str 5 Ap- Initiative 10 for Hammer of Wrath. It's an option and would probably surprise the heck out of an opponent if done late in the game! With a few Biomorphs, it could actually be pretty nasty! Let's look at its wargear now.

  • Twin-linked Stranglethorn Cannon - 36" Str 6 AP5, Assault 1 Large Blast, Pinning.
  • Can replace the above with a twin-linked Heavy Venom Cannon - 36" Str 9 AP4, Assault 1, Blast.
  • Scything Talons - does nothing but allow it to attack in melee
  • Spore Mine Cysts - Range * - Str 4 AP4, Assault 1, Large Blast, Barrage. The Spore Mine Cysts are actually dropped like a bomb in the Movement Phase, targeting a model the Harpy passed over and scattering d6". If nothing is hit by the Large Blast, then it places d3 spore mines on the table instead. This new unit moves around the rest of the game until they can assault a unit and explode!

The Harpy can also make some purchases:

  • Can buy either a Stinger Salvo - 18" Str 5 AP4 Assault 4
  • Or Cluster Spines - 18" Str 5 AP -, Assault 1 Large Blast.

The Harpy does have some Special Rules as well:

  • Fearless
  • Hunt - Instinctive Behavior - basically shoot at nearest opponent if outside Synapse Range and fail a LD test (remember that LD 10?).
  • Sonic Screech - When a Harpy charges, ALL enemy models in the combat suffer a -5 to their Initiative for that Assault Phase (minimum of 1 Initiative). This is great for supporting other units that are charging high Initiative models or models in cover.

Keep reading below to see the new Tyranid Biomorphs the Harpy can purchase as well as some general tactics and closing thoughts!

Tyranid Harpy

Tyranid Harpy Review 6th Edition
Tyranid Harpy Review 6th Edition

Tyranid Biomorphs

The Tyranid Harpy can also take items from the Biomorph list, which can further tweak this creature to your desire. Let's look at its options:

  • Toxin Sacs - The unit gains the Poisoned rule for it's melee attacks (4+). Remember that if the models Str is equal or greater than the target's Toughness, then it gets to re-roll failed To Wound rolls.
  • Acid Blood - Classic movie trope! For every unsaved Wound you suffer in melee, the enemy unit must pass an Initiative test or take a Str 5 AP 2 hit/
  • Adrenal Glands - The unit gains Fleet and Furious Charge (so Str 6 on the charge and re-rolling one or both charge distance dice - while moving 12" in the Movement Phase).
  • Regeneration - Roll a 4+ at the end of each friendly Turn to regain a Wound lost earlier in the battle. You can only regain 1 Wound a turn this way.


Tyranid Harpy Review

3 stars for Tyranid Harpy

Tyranid Harpy Tactics

Like most of GW's new dual-model kits, each model is designed to do something specific. The Harpy/Hive Crone box makes two distinct units. The Harpy is a Flying Monstrous Creature that is designed to kill ground units. It is basically useless against enemy Flyers.

This is by design, as it gives you a reason to also make a Hive Crone (ahem, buy one), but it also forces you to make a decision when composing your army list. I like these kinds of decisions because it's a conflict you have to resolve before the battle is even fought. What does your army need?

So let's look again at the Harpy. It's basic ranged weaponry can't even target enemy Flyers because they are both Blast weapons . . . however, they are pretty good at hitting large number of Infantry units or vehicles. The large blast, AP 5, and Pinning attributes of the Stranglethorn Cannon will wipe out whole units of Xenos troops in one shot (Eldar, Dark Eldar, Orks, etc). Even versus marines, it will be forcing lots of saves. Remember it's twin-linked, so it will be hitting quite accurately. The Heavy Venom Cannon is strange because it has a high Strength but an average AP, so it best against high Toughness models with little armor or hitting vehicles with a Str 9 blast.

Here's my take on it. Keep it close to your deployment zone and use its main weapon to kill enemy troops or transports (heavy venom cannon). Then, as enemy small arms fire disappears or has priority targets, get close and start Vector Striking infantry or dropping spore mines on them, then blast away with your primary weapon on the same or different units. Then, late in the game, get it in a position to make an Assault to support another unit.

It's Shriek ability will lower enemy Initiative by 5, so enemies in cover will not be safe! I wouldn't do this early in the game, as your Harpy will be on the ground until your next turn, vulnerable to enemy fire! Still, this is an interesting ability that can turn the tide of the game when timed correctly!

Overall, I believe this is an average unit - 3 out of 5 stars. Flying Creatures usually attract a lot of attention from your opponents and that can buy an extra turn for your ground forces to get into position! Placed against low armor infantry, this thing might as well be a Heldrake, as it's primary weapon will take out entire units, while it is also Vector Striking or dropping mines around the board. It has 5 Wounds, so it will not likely be taken out by any single attack or even round of shooting . . . BUT it can be grounded by bolters and then shot all to hell. It's not exactly fragile, but it is vulnerable if placed poorly. I have lost a nearly 300 point Daemon Prince to bolter fire on my opponent's first turn because I got cocky and flew him into the cross-fire of three marine units. Oops!

Update: Quad Guns - The Internet has been ablaze talking about how to keep these new Tyranid FMCs alive. After all, the lowly Quad Gun is Str 7 and AP 4, with 4 twin-linked shots. This gun will wound both the Harpy and Hive Crone on a 2+ and eat right through its armor. Diving will only give you a 5+ cover save at sacrificing most or all your shooting attacks next phase. Solution?

Venomthropes now give Shrouded to any unit within 6". My idea is to move your FMC from reserve and make sure it ends within 6" of a Venomthrope. Now if your FMC is hit and wounded, you can Dive to gain a Jink of 5+ and improve that with Shrouded to make it a 3+ cover save. It's not perfect, but it's a little bit of synergy to buy some time until that Quad Gun is destroyed.

New Tyranids

What do you think of the new Tyranids so far?

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Conclusion

That about wraps up my review of the Tyranid Harpy. I am looking forward to reviewing more Tyranid units and how the codex has changed for 6th edition. Click right below for my review of the Tyranids' other Flyer:

Before you leave, why not voice your opinion with the Poll to the right or give the Harpy your Rating in the box above? Also, feel free to check out some of my other Warhammer 40k articles listed below:

As always, thanks for reading! Comments are always welcome and responded to as quickly as I can. Check back soon for more Tyranid articles for 6th edition. Murphy Out!

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    • profile image

      Jonny 3 years ago

      A slight correction about smash getting 2attacks on the charge. It would actually be 3 attacks on the charge, since you half the natural attacks and round up, then add any bonus attacks such as the +1 for charging. So for the Harpy, this would work out to be 2+1 = 3. You also have not mentioned that being a monstrous creature it gets hammer of wrath when charging for an automatic I10 S5 AP- attack.

    • murphy80 profile image
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      Murphy 3 years ago from Florida

      Jonny, thanks for the correction! You have the rule 100% correct and I knew better, but I didn't do the math correctly in my head :) We do round up when we halve in 40k, so 3 attacks only drops down to 2, and then +1 for the charge.

      Correct about the Hammer of Wrath attacks (which I ALWAYS forget to do with my Daemon Princes and Greater Daemons), however they are mentioned in the Hive Crone review I just posted and linked to at the bottom of this article . . . or linked to, here:

      https://hubpages.com/games-hobbies/Tyranid-6th-Edi...

      Thanks, seriously, for reading and commenting!

    • profile image

      Jonny 3 years ago

      I just read your update regarding the quad gun issue. Diving with venomthrope is an option, but it does hamper your shooting ability in the next turn, i.e. You can only snapshot, and with the harpy coming with blast weapons as standard (you can buy stinger salvo for it though, which is also an option for it hunting other flyers).

      This is my idea, and trying to find anything to prevent this, so it may be wrong. So far i haven't found any objections in the brb. If you see your opponent has a quad gun, you can start the harpy (or crone) in area terrain (or move it onto the board in glide or swoop, so it ends its turn in area terrain). Now as i see it there is nothing in the rules that states that a swooping FMC cannot benefit from a cover save for standing in area terrain. Indeed, there is nothing in the rules that says that a swooping FMC cannot benefit from a cover save if there is an intervening unit between the enemy and their target. Yes, in reality either of these are nit likely, but i can't find where it specifically states that it is not. So if you have a nearby venomthrope, you now have a 3+ or 2+ (For ruins) cover save. Also by virtue of being a MC it has move through cover, so no dangerous terrain test is made.

      So you are likely to survive a quad gun attract, without hampering your next turn shooting. Next turn, you can then try to take out the quad gun threat.

      As i say, there is likely a rule stating that this is not possible (or FAQ). I have never used FMCs before, so this is just me theorising.

    • murphy80 profile image
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      Murphy 3 years ago from Florida

      Jonny, I like your theory and I know that you are at least 1/2 correct to begin with. FMCs use line of sight to determine cover, just like all models do; so if there is intervening terrain between it and the shooter then it is granted a cover save. I am not 100% sure about area terrain, however. I know they FAQ'd it so that Monstrous Creatures only have to have their base within the boundary of area terrain to gain the cover benefit . . . but I'm not sure about FMCs. I will do some research! If it holds up, then your idea is a lot better than Diving, as I hate giving up a turn of shooting.

      Another idea, if the area terrain doesn't pan out: buy a tall Fortification like a bastion for your army. It should be tall enough to partially hide any flying unit... Set it up in the middle of your board and just keep it between your FMC and any Quad Guns out there. The hard walls should provide a 4+ cover save right there!

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 3 years ago

      remember you can shoot Quad guns, they're T7 3+ save with 2 wounds, not really that hard to kill, as I mentioned in my own article on how to keep Crimson Hunters and other AV10 (or I guess other vulnerable flyers), dedicate some fire to the quad; which will almost inevitably be at the front of the unit and therefore wounds will be directly alocated to it, then see if you can get rid of it.

    • murphy80 profile image
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      Murphy 3 years ago from Florida

      Yep, the Quad Guns are a problem for lots of armies . . . not just Tyranid FMC. For other readers, click on SEG's name to look at his profile and read his article. Well worth applying towards Tyranids, too! Or SEG, just post a link . . . I don't mind!

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 3 years ago

      https://hubpages.com/games-hobbies/How-to-keep-Cri... there you go, by no means perfect, but I've outlined some of the things you can do to at least give you a fighting chance.

    • murphy80 profile image
      Author

      Murphy 3 years ago from Florida

      It's valuable advice, though! Thanks for writing it in the first place. Yes, it's for Eldar, but really it has to do with vulnerable Flyers. Read up, people!

    • profile image

      Billy 3 years ago

      Can't a Harpy fly over a group of infantry, drop a bomb then turn and use the Skyfire Rules to hammer a flyer with a Str 9 shot from its Venom Cannon?

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 3 years ago

      in the old rues it could engage 3 targets a turn yes, haven't checked it out this edition though.

    • murphy80 profile image
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      Murphy 3 years ago from Florida

      Unfortunately because the heavy venom cannon is a Blast weapon, it cannot target another Flyer . . . even with the Skyfire rule. The Skyfire rule only allows you to attack Flyers with your normal BS. The next sentence in the big rulebook says "Template, Blast and Large Blast cannot hit Flyers in Zoom mode."

      However, it could drop a bomb on an Infantry unit in the Movement Phase and then target a different ground unit in the Shooting Phase. The rule for Spore Mine Cysts says specifically that it counts as firing a weapon (out of the two allowed for FMCs), but that any other weapon may choose a different target.

      This is why the Harpy is not good versus enemy Flyers: other than the small Strength 5 weapons you can upgrade with, it can't even TARGET flyers with its main weapons (and Str 5 vector strike isn't great odds versus most side armor).

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 3 years ago

      Harpy used to be able to bomb, vector strike then fire, so that was nice.

    • murphy80 profile image
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      Murphy 3 years ago from Florida

      It does feel a shame that they can only shoot two weapons a turn. Most MCs don't even have two weapons to fire, but most Flyers can unload two or three or four weapons every turn, so it seems only fair than an FMC could too. Oh, well, I guess!

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 3 years ago

      It felt weird that the Wraithknight could only fire 2 out of its possible 4 weapons, but that's the way GW have ruled it unfortunately.

    • murphy80 profile image
      Author

      Murphy 3 years ago from Florida

      Agreed. The Wraithknight is spoiled for options; I can only see equipping extra weapons to get that scatter laser re-rolling hits on other weapons. Or switching off the wraithcannons for a turn to open up on some infantry with different weapons. MCs at least are more survivable than standard Walkers; unlikely to be killed by a single lascannon shot.

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 3 years ago

      2 Starcannons for AP2 Overwatch is nice, but I'd go for one Scatter Laser and one Starcannon, either some extra AP2 firepower or twin-linked, it gives you options.

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