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40K Editorial: Carnifexes are Awesome

5 Minute Read
Oct 28 2017

Carnifex 4th cover

Carnifexes are Da Best! Let’s take a look at the beast that helped to define “Big Bug” for years.

Hello BoLS Readers! AdamHarry back with a 100% completely unbiased and factual article about the Mighty Carnifex! (Editor Note: Where is the sarcasm flag…)

Carnifex comes from the Latin words “Car” and “Fex” which we all know when used with the conjunctive “ni” translates into the quite literal “A bug the size of a car!” Okay…you got me. It actually does come from ancient Roman word for executioner. This is actually quite fitting as this Tyranid was one of the original bad-boys of 40k. All the way back to the earliest editions of the game the Carnifex had a special place in the ‘Nid book as THE Big Bug. Yes, Tyrants were around too, but Carnifexes were walking tanks of destruction. They struck fear in to the hearts of opponents and would smash your tanks as well as your infantry with their monstrous blows!


Carnifex Screamer KillerThe Screamer Killer

The OG of Carnifexes was the ferocious “Screamer-Killer” variant. This was the earliest encountered Carnifex as it was used heavily by Hive Fleet Behemoth for boarding actions as well as full on assaults leading up to the battle of Macragge. For me personally – this was the an iconic hunk of metal that has stuck with me since my first days of playing Warhammer 40,000. It’s called a Screamer-Killer because of the sound it makes as it charges it’s Bio-Plasma blast. They would also generate an electric field around it’s claws to help contain the ball of plasma before launch. The mental image conjured up by this Carnifex has been an inspiration to me with my own Tyranid army.

Carnifex V2This is the  “And we almost got sued” variant…

The second incarnation of the Carnifex was this bad boy from 3rd Edition. I like to call this version the “Crab People” Carnifex. This design was created during the awkward phases when many of the Tyranid models got a much needed redesign. However the designed skewed a bit to close to another IP and there was rumors of threatened lawsuit. Sadly, I don’t really have many fond memories of this particular model. I do know that this was the same period GW was mixing in plastic bits with their metals. The plastic bits have stayed – the metal bits have long since been redesigned. So long crabby, we barely knew ye.



This is the current design of the Carnifex. It’s a great kit even by today’s standards. It’s versatile and all plastic – which leads to some great conversion options. This kit has all the weapon options (except for a second set of devourers…) and a slew of extra heads, armor plates and doodads. When I stared collecting ‘Nids this kit was a staple of bits. I really think this kit helped usher in the Tyranid’s heyday during 4th edition…that and the ridiculous fire power that the uber list “Nidzilla” put out at the time. I still have nightmares out that list. In fact, as much as I like modeling, painting and playing my Tyranids, that list has forever scarred myself and many of the other players that endured during that era of Warhammer. But that’s all in the past, right? RIGHT?! Mostly…

This same kit has taken us through 3 editions of 40k and it doesn’t really need to be updated as the design esthetics of the Tyranids hasn’t changed. But it has lost some of it’s luster. There are several newer kits of even bigger bugs. Which, if you think about it, is sort of odd. Why? Well look at the art piece at the top of the article.

That’s a classic Carnifex plowing through a rhino chassis. It could just be the artists take on the big guy – but Carnifexes are still supposed to be massive 8-9 ton beasts! And if they are that size how much more massive are the new beasts like Trygons and Tervigons? The Exocrine/Haruspex, Tyrannofex, Toxicrene/Maleceptor and heck even the Tyrannocyte are all larger than the Carnifex. But does that mean the mighty Carnifexes’ days are done? Far, far from it!

Not dead Yet Monty Python


Games Workshop just released a teaser for the upcoming version of the Screamer-Killer variant. And I’m super excited about it:


I have been sitting on 3 Screamer-Killer Style Carnifexes for a LONG time just because I wanted to have them. Their Plasma is short, their claws were awkward, but man, when they get in there they ripped things up. I’m not sure what all the future holds for this new-old school option but I’m ready to plop them on the table!

Another thing that was mentioned was the “Thornback” which is “an anti-infantry horror” – what does that mean, exactly? Well according to the lore it’s a “Tyranid with large blade protrusions from their carapace.” These were basically used as wrecking balls of spikes that would slam into the enemy lines impaling folks on the way in. Now, the Screamer-Killer seems to fill that role based on how it looks – so will the Thornback stay the same? Who knows!? But I do know that I want one…


For more on the Carnifex throughout the ages why not check out our Sister Site Lexicanum for all the canonical info on the OG Big Bug!

So Tyranid players – what say you? Is the age of the Carnifex on the road to a comeback? Let us know in the comments below.

Author: Adam Harrison
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