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Tyranid 6th Edition Codex - Harpy Review
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
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:
- 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!
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
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.
What do you think of the new Tyranids so far?
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:
- Personal Gaming Blog - Forever War - pictures of my models, etc!
- Space Marine Codex Review - 6th Edition
- Eldar Codex Review - 6th Edition - Part 1
- Many others below the comments!
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!