40k: Level(ed) Playing Field – Tyranid Harridan & Superheavy Meta



Love it or hate it, super heavies are part of the main game now. But, you’ll especailly hate the Tyranid Harridan!

Welcome to my weekly article, Level(ed) Playing Field, where I examine the shifting meta of Warhammer 40,000 and the growing presence of Gargantuan Creatures and Superheavy Vehicles on your local tabletop battlefield.

First off, let’s get one thing out of the way: love it or hate it, super heavies are part of the main game now. You may have your old school “things were better in 3rd edition” mentality. You may think the GW design team has lost its collective mind. You may ban superheavy vehicles and gargantuan creatures at your local store. But they are not going away any time soon. They’re part of the game, not just an optional Escalation supplement anymore and no longer reserved only for Apocalypse, so get used to it. I will be using this article to examine superheavy units individually, and dissecting their presence in normal games of 7th edition Warhammer 40,000 as well as Apocalypse.

The Tyranid Harridan 

A Tyranid Gargantuan Creature which has had a model since 3rd edition or so, exclusively from Forge World, this flying monstrosity makes for an interesting addition to any Hive Fleet, and boasts a range of benefits for all-flying Tyranid swarms, or a potent aerial asset to support scuttling ground units. This week’s focus is a unit which few people use, and may be somewhat controversial given its appearance purely in FW’s Imperial Armour and GW’s Escalation books. But, it’s 7th edition and anything goes!

As a Flying Gargantuan Creature, a Harridan has all the special rules- Unstoppable, Stomp, Fear, Fearless, Hammer of Wrath, Move Through Cover, Relentless, Smash, Strikedown, Vector Strike, and yes, Feel No Pain. There is some controversy as to how many weapons a Gargantuan Creature can fire- some people seem to think only two weapons as per a monstrous creature; others seem to agree that the wording “it may fire each of its weapons at a different target” to mean that the GC/FGC can fire all weapons it is equipped with. Either way, this shouldn’t effect the Harridan, as it only has two weapons to shoot with.

As a Flying Gargantuan Creature, the Harridan also uses the unmodified rules for Flying Monstrous Creatures- it must be set to swoop or glide each turn, it can Jink, it’s Hard to Hit, and if wounded, it must take a Grounded Test- which if failed can severely hamper the beast’s performance. Back in the day, there was a rule called “Born in the Air” which killed a Harridan outright if it was grounded (or so I’m told, I’ve never read the rule myself)- no such rule currently exists in either Escalation or Imperial Armour IV: The Anphelion Project, Second Edition.

Of unique benefit is that the Harridan can act as an open-topped transport for up to 20 Gargoyles, thus providing an incredibly swift means of grabbing objectives or bringing a good number of (small and weak) bodies to a fight.

Harridans come equipped with a set of Scything Talons- bog standard for any Tyranid unit, and a pair of Bio-Cannons (two, not twin-linked). These weapons boast 48” range, S10, Ap3, Heavy 6, meaning you’re likely to hit with about half your shots at the creature’s BS3, and put the hurt on any MEQ type units across a very wide threat range. Furthermore, as a Fearless unit with no Synaptic Behavior rule and LD10, the Harridan is free to roam far and wide as it hunts new targets, including other flyers- Swooping Hunters allows Flying MCs (including FGCs) to fire their weapons in any direction all around, and choose whether to Skyfire or not when they shoot.


Tyranid hunter

Bring Down the Beast

It’s unlikely a Tyranid player will ever voluntarily drop a Harridan into gliding, so you won’t be able to go full on Van Zandt on its ass (….am I the only other person who remembers Reign of Fire? Clearly Moloch/Marco Shulze does). However, there are plenty of ways to tackle a beefy Lord of War such as this. AA weaponry in the form of an Aegis Defense Line is available to most every army, but even then S7 AP4 isn’t going to do a lot against a T8, 3+ save, 8 Wound, FNP xeno-dragon.

Dogfighters and Air Superiority Flyers are likely your best bet- every army has a flyer, and with enough volume of fire, cover-save ignoring weaponry, or high-strength shots you can pierce the Harridan’s armor and force it to the ground, or kill it outright- and if you’re lucky take a few of its passengers with it! It may shrug off a few wounds with FNP, but volume of fire is the key to taking it down.

Danger Zone! 

The following are some extremely potent anti-flyers who can put the hurt on the Harridan. Though every army has different answers, nobody is truly lacking in options.


Donkey Punch: The Onager Dunecrawler is the Flyer’s worst enemy. With a barrage of relatively high strength, Skyfire, and Interceptor shots, this Skitarii walker can put one or two wounds per turn on a Harridan in range. The only downside is the walker’s relatively short range and slow speed- it may be outmaneuvered if the Tyranid player is clever. If you’re not using Skitarii (and therefore the fun donkey-related header is inapplicable), dedicated AA units such as the Space Marine Hunter/Stalker or the Necron Sentry Pylon with Gauss Exterminator will suit your needs perfectly.


Hunt the Hunter: Crimson Hunters are the Craftworld Eldar’s best anti-fighter airpower. Although admittedly suited more for hunting nonorganic flyers with armor values, its twin heavy weapons (star cannons or bright lances) can clip a FGC’s wings in short order. With its own Jink and the Vector Dancer special rule, the Crimson Hunter (or a small squadron of them) can hunt down a Harridan on their own terms.


Mind over Monster: Psychic powers are always a good option for dealing with tough opponents. Although Flyers are difficult to hit, Nova Witchfires auto-hit everything effected, specifically including Flyers and Flying Monstrous Creatures (and therefore Flying Gargantuan Creatures as well). However, Nova powers are absurdly short ranged at 9” for all Basic-Rulebook ones, meaning you will have to be practically base-to-base with the Harridan above your psyker. Malediction powers don’t need to roll to hit, and can target flyers with no penalties- these can be extremely damaging to an enemy Flying Gargantuan Creature, so powers such as Misfortune (used in conjunction with AA weapons) or Hallucination can have an incredibly potent effect.

Despite being an incredibly potent threat, the Harridan is not without its own weaknesses. Yes, it will take a large chunk of your army to damage or destroy one, but remember that as a Lord of War your opponent is likely to only field a single Harridan, and its hefty 735 point cost will ensure that the rest of the Tyranid army will be severely hampered by its loss. Do not despair at the site of a Flying Gargantuan Creature (or any superheavy), they are powerful weapons but far from unbeatable!

What is your most dreaded Superheavy?

  • Severius_Tolluck

    I always loved that model. Yeah it came out I want to say 2003 or 2004. They showed it off at Gamesday Chicago, along with the video games Firewarrior, and the first Warhammer online that lead to some law suits against Sega! Ohhh memories!

  • Severius_Tolluck

    Oh and for Van Zandt, Apparently hes had two sculpts in recent years in infinity! For the Ariadna faction.

  • My nid buddy was talkin aboot this creature the other day, Tha KS for the info I will pass it along.

    Props for trying to legitimize Donkey Punch 😉

  • snakechisler

    I think your pitch is a bit skewed you’ve always been able to put in super heavies and as for them being part of the main Game as you put it each set of players sets the limits of the game they want to construct, if that doesn’t include super heavies then thats up to them. This mind numbing attitude that you HAVE to play with the biggest baddest broken thing in the game coz thats how it is is plain wrong and has reduced our local comp scene to a fragment of what it was as people just don’t want to compete on those terms

    • The Basement Gamer

      I agree with your sediment if not your punctuation.

  • Koszka

    Sadly, with the harridan being T8 and having a pretty awesome save, novas and icarus arrays have a hard time denting this bad boy. The crimson hunters are awesome though in this situation.

    My strategy against this thing is to just ignore it. it can only target 2 units at a time, and if you’re sitting in cover or have a 2+ you should be fine when dealing with it. Can’t remember, but doesn’t it only have bs3? I played against it recently and it wasn’t doing so well shooting at my units. Pretty rad model though and I can definitely see the usefulness of one of these batboys ( or two) on the battlefield. Apoc games Beware!!!

    • Djbz

      I’m pretty sure a Nid player would have better luck using it in a more melee beast fashion, keeping it on the ground and punching through walkers or other high armour value targets that most Tyranid monsters struggle with.
      Might be a bit risky against an imperial knight (or anything else with a D melee weapon, but (unless i’m mistaken) it has the Initiative, strength and number of attacks to take them with it at least(in theory)

      • Frank O’Donnell

        I’m not sure their can land unless something has changed in there rules in the IA4 update.

      • Tortuga932

        ws4 str10 I3 A4, kinda dumpy for 735 points

        • Djbz

          Yeah, that is suckier than I thought.

          • Tesq

            for 734 point it mean if he land i will focuss it with all cc op things i have and this mean in most of case s10 things so that r8 not gona save him, it’s better it stay on air and not lay down.
            And doing that i can completly ingore it, that said it’s a poor designed unit that dont really scare me appart from the deliver method with other units, which mean i just keep my units close and ready to support each other.

    • I’ve played against Harridans at least twice in standard games (rather than Apocalypse, etc), and this has also been my experience. They just don’t have enough damage output for how many points they cost, so I just ignored them and they achieved very little.

    • Drpx

      Essentially it’s a 4th edition Monolith.

  • Warboss Sotane

    It’s okay, within a short while we’ll have a new monster.

  • Frank O’Donnell

    Every army has a way to deal with FGC’s you say, go tell that to the SoB’s or do they just pray it out of the sky ? lol

    • Drpx

      They feed sinners to it until it chokes.

  • Bugsculptor

    Banned in the ITC for being OP. The same ITC that just let in a 500 point big mek stompa with 12 hp, a kff and the ability to repair multiple hull points a turn.

    The harridan is definitely hard to kill, but is more expensive and has the same damage output as a barbed hierodule, which people have been dealing with for a long time. Sinking all your points into a harridan gives you little or no chance of killing a decurion, it can only kill 2-3 units per turn whilst flying.

    • Talys

      Personally, I think they’re way too expensive to be considered OP. You just have to give up too much to take him.

      • Bugsculptor

        Yeah, against a Decurion you’d be hard pressed to kill two combat squads a turn with a harridan. With BS 3 and six shots, you get an average 3 hits… so most times you kill 2-3 marines with a round of shooting… even if they’re not in cover. They’re pretty good at wrecking transports and pods though… and d3 S10 vector strike hits will total most enemy flyers.

        Obsec MSU is the current meta, which including transports means 15-20 obsec units that have to be killed to remove them from maelstrom objectives. You’re spending half your army on it. Plus with the all the tactical and devastator doctrine re-rolls out there, I can still see this guy dying to grav fire in a couple of turns.

        • Tesq

          malestorm mission are totaly stupid due the card requried being so bad designed.

          • Bugsculptor

            They’re still a part of 7th edition and most tournament scenarios around here. Most tournies run some kind of “modified maelstrom” that is fairer to both sides.

  • pokemastercube .

    tigershark AX-1-0 and the manta i find are best for dealing with FGC (tho i only own the former of the 2 units) cos they bring a strength D weapon into play that can urt things that are flying given it is a solid round, this is the heavy rail gun, and both flyers are BS4 with twin-linked heavy railguns, the tigershark ax-1-0 also has straifing run to be more deadly against ground targets but that is poinless for this bit

  • TweetleBeetle

    Gargantuan creatures can fire all weapons. That has never been a question except one those who either can’t read, or just hate everything that isn’t in their army.

    Every single tournament since the history of ever has ruled it this way as well.

  • Tortuga932

    Gargantuan Creatures/ Superheavies also can not jink

    • Dylan Pettersson

      Gargantuan creatures definitely can jink as it says on p70 that they are flying monstrous creatures with the exceptions listed, and it does not say it cannot jink. Superheavy vehicles are a bit different. Under a heading labeled movement in the generic superheavy vehicle section on p94 it says that no matter the type, a superheavy can’t jink. This means those pesky eldar superheavy skimmers can’t jink but under superheavy flyers on p97 it says that they only use the superheavy rules for shooting, damage, catastrophic damage and transports, missing the entry for movement which is specifically listed in the generic superheavy rules. This means that even though SH flyers are SH, they don’t use the paragraph that says they can’t jink but they use the normal flyer rules which says they can.

      • Andrew Thomas

        They don’t get Jink, it’s not in the GC/FGC special rules list. Try harder.

        • Dylan Pettersson

          Okay it would be good if you could reference something which says that. I’m quoting p70 which says that flying gargantuan creatures use all the rules for flying monstrous creatures with the exceptions listed, which does not list not being able to jink.

          • Andrew Thomas

            Jink is listed as a Special Rule for Flying Monstrous Creatures on page 68. It is not listed, even with a parenthetical stating that it only applies to Flying Gargantuan Creatures, as they’ve done for Vector Strike, in the Special Rules section for Gargantuan Creatures on page 71. Jink is a special rule, not an intrinsic quality, of Flying Monstrous Creatures.

          • Andrew Thomas

            Also, you left out a key word: movement. Page 70 states that Flying Gargantuan Creatures follow all of the ‘movement’ rules of Flying Monstrous Creatures. Nowhere in those rules is Jink mentioned, not that it would be, as Jink is a defensive ability, not a movement ability.

          • Dylan Pettersson

            I did not leave out movement because if your look at the second paragraph on gargantuan creatures it says that they inherit all the rules from flying monstrous creatures. This gives you all the rules for changing flying modes and all the things that come with being a flying monstrous creature. If it inherits all the rules of a flying monstrous creature then out would have to specifically say that it cannot jink in the gargantuan rules. If flying monstrous creature was a class is python and flying gargantuan creature was a class that inherited from fmc you would have to specify that it cannot do something a fmc can. That’s just how inheritance works.

          • Andrew Thomas

            You’re wrong. Jink is not in their Movement rules, and that is all that transfers. They have their own set of Special Rules, which supersede those of Monstrous Creatures, of which Jink is not included. If it were as you said, then why would they get their own set of Special Rules, rather than prefacing that section with “in addition to the special rules granted to Monstrous Creatures, all Gargantuan Creatures gain…”?

          • Andrew Thomas

            Protip: actually quote the big rulebook, rather than paraphrasing. Because your paraphrased excerpts can be interpreted any way you please, while direct quotes are harder to refute.

          • Andrew Thomas

            Here, an annotated copy of the sections you are paraphrasing:


            Gargantuan Creatures are of such immense size that they can take on entire armies. They tower over the battlefield, making the ground shudder as they advance upon the foe, crushing lesser creatures beneath their feet as they lumber forwards. Only the Tyranids use such creatures as a matter of course, but there are numerous examples of Gargantuan Creatures found across the galaxy, including the mighty Squiggoths goaded into battle by some Ork tribes.
            Gargantuan Creatures are Monstrous Creatures that have the additional rules and exceptions given below. Flying Gargantuan Creatures are Flying Monstrous Creatures that have the additional rules and exceptions given below. (keyword here being exceptions)


            Gargantuan Creatures can move 12″ in the Movement phase unless specified otherwise. Apart from this, they obey the movement rules for Monstrous Creatures. Flying Gargantuan Creatures follow the movement rules for Flying Monstrous Creatures without any modification. (which are as follows:

            FLIGHT MODES

            Flying Monstrous Creatures can move using one of two flight modes: Swooping or Gliding.

            Changing Flight Mode

            At the start of its move, a Flying Monstrous Creature must declare whether it is Swooping or
            Gliding until the start of its next turn. If a Flying Monstrous Creature changes flight modes during its turn, it cannot declare a charge during the same turn.
            A Gliding Flying Monstrous Creature cannot change flight mode whilst Falling Back.


            If a Flying Monstrous Creature is Gliding, it moves, Runs and charges exactly like a Jump
            Monstrous Creature.


            If a Flying Monstrous Creature is Swooping, it moves exactly like a Jump Monstrous Creature, with the following exceptions:
            • It must move at least 12″ and can move up to 24″.
            • Due to its limited manoeuvrability, a Flying Monstrous Creature that is Swooping can make a single pivot on the spot of up to 90° before it moves. Thereafter it must move directly forwards in a straight line. As many Flying Monstrous Creatures are mounted on circular or oval bases, it’s not always clear which way is forward. If in doubt, just make sure you use the same point on the base as the ‘front’ for the entire game.
            • A Flying Monstrous Creature that is Swooping can move over intervening units and impassable
            terrain exactly as a Jump Monstrous Creature. In addition, a Flying Monstrous Creature that is Swooping does not take Dangerous Terrain tests.
            • A Flying Monstrous Creature that is Swooping can move over intervening units and impassable
            terrain exactly as a Jump Monstrous Creature. In addition, a Flying Monstrous Creature that is Swooping does not take Dangerous Terrain tests.
            • Models that physically fit under a Swooping Flying Monstrous Creature can move beneath it. Likewise, a Swooping Flying Monstrous Creature can end its move over such models. However, when moving this way, enemy models must still remain 1″ away from the base of the Swooping Flying Monstrous Creature, and it cannot end its move with its base within 1″ of other enemy models.
            • A Flying Monstrous Creature that elects to Run can move up to 2D6″ straight forwards if Swooping.
            • A Flying Monstrous Creature cannot charge or be charged whilst it is Swooping.
            • A Swooping Flying Monstrous Creature can never Fall Back.

            Swooping Hunters

            Flying Monstrous Creatures are quick-witted predators, able to track their targets even when moving at high speeds. They can, therefore, fire up to two of their weapons normally, even if Swooping (provided that they don’t Run). Flying Monstrous Creatures can shoot all around, just like other non-vehicle models.
            In addition, a Flying Monstrous Creature that is Swooping can choose whether or not to use the
            Skyfire special rule at the start of each phase. They don’t have to use the Skyfire special rule, but if they do, all weapons they fire that phase are treated as having the Skyfire special rule.

            Hard to Hit

            A Swooping Flying Monstrous Creature is a very difficult target for units without specialised
            weapons. Shots resolved at such a target can only be resolved as Snap Shots unless the model or weapon has the Skyfire special rule.

            Leaving Combat Airspace

            It’s quite likely that a Flying Monstrous Creature will leave the board whilst Swooping. Indeed
            it can, unlike other units, deliberately do so. If this happens, whether deliberate or not, the unit is said to have left combat airspace – it then enters Ongoing Reserves. Whilst in Reserve, the unit cannot change flight mode (it’s too busy trying to get back to the battlefield).
            A Flying Monstrous Creature cannot leave combat airspace on the same turn that it entered play
            from Reserves – the owning player must deploy their model in such a way that it will not leave the board on this turn.

            Grounded Tests

            If a Flying Monstrous Creature that is Swooping suffers one or more unsaved Wounds during
            any phase, it must take a Grounded test at the end of that phase.
            To take a Grounded test roll a D6. On a 3+, the Flying Monstrous Creature maintains control and
            suffers no additional effect.
            If a 1 or 2 is rolled, the beast comes crashing down to the ground – it suffers a single Strength 9 hit with no armour or cover saves allowed, and becomes Grounded. A Grounded Flying Monstrous Creature is treated as if it is in Glide mode with immediate effect, and can therefore be charged in the following Assault phase. Furthermore, a Grounded model automatically loses any saving throw granted by the Jink special rule (if it had one) until the start of its next Movement phase and cannot Jink for the rest of the current turn. A Grounded model can
            revert to Swoop mode again in its next turn.
            Note that if a Flying Monstrous Creature is Grounded during the enemy’s turn, it will start
            its own Movement phase in Glide mode and so can declare a charge during its turn if it chooses to do so, unless it chooses to change flight modes.

            Swooping Flying Monstrous Creatures and Tank Shock

            Due to their high altitude and manoeuvrability, a vehicle cannot Tank Shock a Swooping Flying
            Monstrous Creature – if the vehicle would end up underneath a Swooping Flying Monstrous Creature, move the vehicle by the shortest distance so that it is 1″ away from the base of the Flying Monstrous Creature.

            Notice anything missing?)


            When a Gargantuan Creature or Flying Gargantuan Creature makes a shooting attack, it may fire
            each of its weapons at a different target if desired. In addition, firing Ordnance weapons has no effect on a Gargantuan Creature or Flying Gargantuan Creature’s ability to fire other weapons. Gargantuan Creatures and Flying Gargantuan Creatures cannot fire Overwatch.(again, notice anything missing?)


            Gargantuan Creatures and Gliding Flying Gargantuan Creatures may make Stomp attacks in the same manner as Super-heavy Walkers.


            Any attack that normally inflicts Instant Death or says that the target model is removed from
            play inflicts D3 Wounds on a Gargantuan Creature or Flying Gargantuan Creature instead.
            In addition, attacks with the Sniper special rule only cause a Wound on a roll of a 6. Attacks with
            the Poisoned special rule only cause a Wound on a roll of a 6 (unless the attack’s Strength would cause a Wound on a lower result).

            SPECIAL RULES (oh, look, a big list of exceptions)

            Gargantuan Creatures and Flying Gargantuan Creatures have the following special rules:
            Fear, Fearless, Feel No Pain, Hammer of Wrath, Move Through Cover, Relentless, Smash, Strikedown, Vector Strike (Flying Gargantuan Creatures only). (third time: notice anything

          • Dylan Pettersson

            An exception is when it says you can’t do something, like how in the super heavy section it says you can’t jink. People in my area play that gargantuans can jink because it says monstrous creatures can and doesn’t specifically say that gargantuans can’t so i guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I see what you’re saying and it is unfortunate that gw decided to give gargantuans their own list of special rules which may or may not be missing jink. This could either be on purpose because it’s in the fmc section (in which case they could have made it more clear with a specific “you can’t jink” line like in the super heavy section), or an oversight as it relists rules that would already have been inherited.

  • Crablezworth

    “Love it or hate it, super heavies are part of the main game now”

    I think you meant to say :

    “Love it or hate it, we’re all forced to play apoc now because reasons” .

    • Drpx

      Should have read, “super heavies/GCs are part of the main game now, love it or leave it.”

  • Drpx

    Ever notice that the best nid stuff flies now? They’re less a ravenous tide of scuttling horrors than a giant murder of crows.

  • Mikillangelo

    Those are all good ways to hurt him. But if you really want to beat him, you have to wait for the Magic Hour. Their eyes can’t focus in the failing light. At least… that’s what I heard.