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Warhammer 40K: Tyranids Forge World Review – The Bio Titans

11 Minute Read
Dec 1 2020

Today, we look over the new Tyranid rules for Tyranids in the updated Forge World Compendium.  Meet the REALLY BIG bugs!

Danny from TFG Radio here,

First off, check out all the smaller Forge World bugs here.   In the 30,000 foot view, the Forgeworld update gives a lot more zoom to Nidzilla. Let’s go!

Barbed Hierodule

Oh man, I was not expecting this change at all.  Both Hierodules have lost the Titanic rule and are no longer Lords of War but Heavy Support.  This opens up so much in so many ways.

Let’s start with what is lost: 4 wounds, 2 Strength, and 3” of movement.  That’s not really a bad trim to go from LoW to Heavy Support. But wait, what else did they lose? 185 points are what they lost.  That’s pretty awesome.  Granted, 275 is still our most expensive non LoW beast, but that is a lot more in line with what you get.  The Bio-Cannon “loses” d3 damage to a flat D2, which is fine with me as again, consistent results are better than high variance for long term success.  Especially since the cannon stays at AP-2, your opponent is going to save, and rolling a bunch of 1s and 2s for damage is no good when you are only sneaking through a few rolls.  The Barbed did lose the Agile rule, which is fine overall but it was helpful at times to reliably go 18” in a single phase.

What did the Barbed gain? Well, easy to miss but super clutch, it gained a 2+ armor save, the only 2+ armor save in the Tyranid line outside of our biggest baddie, the Hierophant.  This is critical as it means that unless you are playing against an army that packs a ton of AP-4, you don’t need to give Dermic Symbosis to the Hierodule because AP-3 is going to save on a 5+ either way.  It also means that you can try and get some sweet cover for another bonus, making that 2+ even more annoying to kill at range.  And yes, Hierodules aren’t that big, so it is feasible to get them cover (or say, put them in Jormungandr), and boom, you have a really resilient ranged threat that pumps out decent fire power (now at BS 3+ standard, so moooneeeeeeeyy).  If anyone should be happy, Jormungandr gun lines should rejoice as they are cheap enough to take 2 and be the rock on which you build your church. Kronos can also get mileage thanks to rerolling 1s to hit when standing still.

They also gained some pop with the new “Hierodule Scything Talon” which still gives them a nice reroll 1s to hit, but more importantly, let’s them fight back at S10 but d3+3 damage, which is just so superior to a flat d6.  While they still only have 4 attacks, those attacks can really mess up a high value target.  They are monsters, so they can still just shoot into combat if they get wrapped, and overall, they produce some decent heat at range.

Now, they aren’t going to just dominate the shooting phase as 12 shots at S8 AP-2 D2 are certainly good, but it is not overwhelmingly so.  Hive Guard still shoot better for 25 more points, can shoot twice, and are harder to shoot at, so if looking for sheer efficiency, HG are still our best shooters.  That said, the Barbed provides a great anchor to a backline, able to shrug off a lot of heat while dishing out its own, keeping a backfield objective in your possession.


Overall, this is a really smart play to bring back the Hierodule to the table, and I am already building a lot of lists, and I may need 1 more.

Scythed Hierodule

To save space, let’s just go through it, the Scythed Hierodule “loses” a lot of the same things. First, it loses 175 points.  That’s always nice.  It did lose 4 wounds and 2 Strength, but again, the strength is offset by its new weapons, which is just awesome.  It did lose 2 attacks though as it is now base 6 attacks and does not get the bonus attack for having 2 sets of Talons, which seems odd to me, but here we are. Losing Agile does hurt this beastie as the 3d6, drop the lowest, charge made it far more reliable as did the auto 6 advance, allowing you to pull off some deep first turn charges with a well placed Onslaught.  The Bio-acid spray also loses damage, going down to just a flat damage 1, but this is balanced out by gaining another d6 worth of shots.

The change to its attacks means that the Scythed can actually kill things, doing at minimum 4 damage a pop, that adds up quick, and it is still movement 12, meaning that you can get some great charges out of it on turn 1.  It is also cheap, at 235 for what you get, you can take 1 as the new distraction Carnifex, forcing your opponent to have to dedicate resources to it, and if it dies, it is not game over for you.  I could also see just running 3 and shoving them down your opponent’s throat while smaller, MSU style units flood the board to take objectives. With only 6 attacks, the Scythed is definitely aimed at killing hard targets like vehicles or very elite squads, so you have to be careful that it doesn’t get bogged down in a horde.  That said, the new spray at 3d6 shots is very much good for clearing out those pesky buggers.

No longer being tied to Lord of War slots means that the Scythed (and the Barbed) get so much more mileage out of the various Hive Fleet adaptations. Kraken is an obvious choice for sheer speed, but a custom Hive Fleet for Prey Sight means that the Scythed is hitting on a rerollable WS 2+ on the charge, and that definitely gets some mileage out of those attacks.   Between Dimachaeron’s and Scythed, you can run a Nidzilla list that just floods the board with a lot of big nasties that are fast and going to get into your opponent real quick.

Overall, I think the Barbed gained more from this change, but the Sycthed certainly evolved, maybe not as much as its sibling, but this is still a huge improvement to a gorgeous model.

The Harridan

Our big, big flyer had a serious glow up, and in terms of total changes, the Harridan is the big winner for me, going from absolutely wasted to something worth considering at times.  First, the Harridan actually got cheaper by 60 points, which is nice, and while 700 points is a lot to spend on a single model, it does bring something quite unique to Tyranids.  We’ll get to that.  Stat wise, the Harridan actually gains 4 wounds and went up to Strength and Toughness 8, making it a pretty chonky bug.  34 T8 wounds is not easy to chew through quickly, and this is definitely one of the times you want to bring out Dermic Symbiosis for the 5++.


The biggest change is that the Harridan is actually Aircraft, so it gets all those super rules, namely Airborne.  This means that it cannot be charged except by units with Fly, and when you factor in the huge size that a Harridan is, this can be a great way to block out enemy units from getting to precious objectives or a particularly important stretch of table.  Yes, Aircraft can’t hold objectives, but just using that big ol base to get in the way is still a thing, and while it is not as strong as it was in 8th, it is still a tool that Tyranids have
not had.  To make it a bit better, the Harridan can also Hover, so you never have to worry about flying off the table when you don’t want to, and you can still drop into Hover and charge when needed.  That is really key, and it opens up some missile style plays where you just throw the Harridan across the field to take out an important threat.

And a Harridan can fight thanks to 5 S10 AP-3 D6 attacks that reroll 1s to hit.  This outright kills most characters  on a single failed save, and it can mulch most vehicles.  This is just one of the weird angle-plays that it allows for, but it also a fair shooter. It now has the The Dire Bio-Cannon which has changed quite a bit, losing the Macro ability but gaining 2 extra shots and a boost up to AP-3.  This means the Harridan puts out 16 shot of these hits, and it still keeps an actually better version of Frenzied Metabolism, taking d3 wounds to just flat out gain +1 to wound in shooting.  This means you are wounding Knights on 2s, which is unheard of for Tyranids at range. On average dice, a Harridan does 17.78 wounds against a Knight in one volley.  Damage 3 isn’t amazing for such a heavy hitter, but still, at 16 shots and BS 3+ native, that is nice.  This opens up a lot of fun like making the Harridan Kronos for Symbiostorm, and suddenly the Harridan does 22.22 wounds on average, just a little bit of luck to pop a Knight at range in one volley.   Again, factor in that a Knight can’t even touch a Harridan, that’s a nice answer if you find yourself in a very Knight heavy meta.

The Harridan does have the limited movement and -1 to hit as other Aircraft (when it is not Hovering that is), but this is nice as it means that you can deploy the Harridan away from any defensive buffs like a Malanthrope, giving you a bit more flexibility.  You still can stack the auras together in case you are going against a gun line that has a +1 to hit aura/ability to help cancel it all out.  And again, at T8 with 34 wounds, that’s a lot of beef, especially if you have a Maleceptor for that sweet -1S aura.

The Harridan also still can carry 20 Gargoyles, meaning you can use it like a super transport to tag a far away objective and suddenly drop 20 bodies there next turn, taking a corner objective away from your opponent well before they are ready to move on it.  20 Gargolyes are generally safer inside the Harridan than out, so you can keep them out of harm’s way for quite some time.

All that said, there are two big hits against the Harridan that haven’t been fixed: it is a Lord of War and it is still 700 points.  This bug is resource intensive in every possible way, requiring one of your Adaptive Physiologies, 3 CP for the Auxiliary detachment, and over a third of your points in a standard tournament game.  Is it worth it in a competitive environment? No, but then, it is far more usable than before, and you can make some pretty hilarious armies with it.

Overall, you may start seeing these on the tabletop, and while I don’t think they’ll be the secret sauce to the top tables, they are actually not a total handicap anymore.


So, when we talk about getting a points cut, this is pretty massive. Going from 2,000 to 850 is a mind-boggling drop, and clearly, this means GW wants you to at least think about bringing one to a game.  To be fair, it did lose 16 wounds, but well, that seems more than a square trade thus far.  It is a little slower, and it did lose a point of leadership, but overall, for 1150 points, that seems right still.


The Dire bio-Cannons are very different and provide reasonable threat.  What I said about the Harridan holds true here: this is about as flat out powerful as Nid shooting can be, and there are some tricks here, but overall, it isn’t going to just dominate the shooting phase like other super-heavies can.  That said, it does have more overall threat than the Harridan with an upgraded Bio-plasma Torrent with is now 12”, not Pistol (thank God), and S7 rather than 5.  This gives the Hierophant some nice anti-infantry shooting to complement the big buckets from the Bio-Cannons. It also still has the better version of Frenzied Metabolism, specifically because it boosts all shooting, so you get +1 to wound on the big guns and the little gun, meaning you are wounding pretty much all of your preferred targets on 2s.

It’s melee threat did get toned down though as its Talons are S10 AP-3 D6, which is still great and definitely about as scary as Tyranid melee gets, but obviously, it is not the S16 D2d6 of the old days, but then the Hierophant is definitely no longer meant to compete with Warlord Titans and the like. Really, it is far more appropriate to be like an expensive Knight like the Poryphrion.  It also has the bonus 10 attacks from the Lash Pods, meaning you don’t have to choose one or the other, you get 6 swings with the big talons and then 10 little swings, which hey, 16 attacks in a single fight is not bad at all.


The Hierophant is also still a 2+ save, which again, is money.  Since it already has a 5++ built in, you don’t need to worry about that, and again, if you can park it into cover somewhere, it can be a pain to kill at range.  Because it is a Lord of War, you aren’t going to get the cool Hive Fleet adaptations in an Auxiliary Super-Heavy detachment (which never gain Detachment bonuses), which is probably for the best, but still, it does limit the usefulness of that 2+ just a touch.

The Hierophant also doesn’t have to choose between options anymore: it just has Hypertoxic Poison Cloud (a replacement to the old acid blood upgrade), which is not bad as the model itself is not that tall but is wide, so if you have a base (we’ll get to that), you can clip a lot of models with this rule, and triggering on a 5+ is definitely not bad.  It also just has a 20 Infantry Transport capacity, meaning you can hide a full squad of Genestealers inside (or a full squad of Warriors), which can be super helpful.  Mostly, I see the Hierophant as the  backfield guardian; it stays put on a critical objective, kills big things at range, can fight off anything that comes close, and if need be, can drop 20 obsec bodies to make sure to keep a critical objective.

Again, like the Harridan, it suffers from being a Lord of War.  As we only have 2 now, we can’t even run a full Super-Heavy detachment at 2k points to be able to get Detachment bonuses, so the Hierophant and Harridan never get to have a Hive Fleet trait active. You can still mark either Kronos and target them with Symbiostorm, but the actual reroll 1s to hit would be cool.  Again, this is likely a balance thing because having a Hierophant always in cover or rerollings 1 to hit in shooting could be problematic.

The one issue is that the rules specifically call out that it doesn’t have a base, and how to “imagine” one there.  The problem is that this bug is huge when you put down a base, meaning it can pretty much never navigate terrain.  If you have yours on a base (like me) then if you want to be able to actually navigate the board, you need to redo it, maybe just put bases on the talons for balance and then “draw the line” like arena terrain for the rest of it.  Actually physically playing with the model requires some adjustment here, which again, is a bit odd, but here we are.

Overall, I never got to use my Hiero in 8th, so while I don’t see it being anywhere near strong enough to anchor a competitive army, it can certainly be used with good effect in more casual environments.  That’s not to say it is a casual piece as well, it is still a giant monster, so make sure if playing a friendly or narrative game, your opponent knows to bring some heavy heat for it.


Well, that was a journey.  Thanks for being here with me on it.   Thanks as always for reading.

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