5th Ed. Tyranids: Gargoyles

I’ve been a long-time fan of gargoyles, both in 40k and in real life alike.  In real life, they have a quiet eerieness that draws  me into a dark, gothic world of the past–in 40k, they don’t have quite the same effect:  but they have proved to be solid choices in virtually every edition of the game (contrary to popular opinion).  There is a fair amount of  hope out there for the new plastic gargoyles in 5th edition… let’s figure out if it’s justified.

The Good

Well, right off the bat, these guys got twice as cheap as they once were.  If there’s something to impress the masses, that’s gotta be it.  Seriously, who can resist a 2 for the price of 1 sale?

Their new “blinding poison” attack is what I like to call “rending-light.”  On a roll of  a six (presumably to-hit), they’ll autmatically wound whatever they’re fighting–but the opponent will get an armor save.  This does mean that they can fight monstrous creatures fairly reliably, and I suspect it will increase their damage output in assault by about about 12%.  No, it’s not a huge amount, but it is an improvement.

They can also purchase furious charge and toxin sacs to further improve their odds of killing their foes in assault.

The Bad

With the loss of the bio-plasma attack, firing at I8, they’ve lost some of their punch (and, to a lesser extent, survivability).  Even with the new blinding poison rule, they’ll put out less wounds per model, but I suspect more wounds per point (especially on the charge)–but then again, you’ll need to be able to get all of those winged creatures into hand to hand, and it can be a pain to manuever those around.

They also lost their ability to deepstrike.  Unlike virtually every other choice in the army, they do not get the ability naturally (despite having it in 4th edition)–nor do they have an option to buy a landing spore. 

*EDIT* This is incorrect.  Since gargoyles count as jump infantry, they can deepstrike natively without it explicitly stating so in their unit entry.  Thanks to Karnstein for pointing this out to me.

Aside from that, the typical change in unit size (from 8-32 to 10-30) is a small change.  I don’t suspect anyone really played squads that large in the previous edition though, so it’s not a big deal.  Lastly, they did suffer the negative to leadership that’s becoming an all-too-common issue with all of the ‘nid units.  Yes, with synapse nearby, they should auomatically pass most leadership tests, but the new changes really make protecting your synapse all the more important.

The Ugly

Conspiracy theory alert!  Since they were so rarely played in the past, I suspect GW bumped up their stats and released plastic models to force everyone to go out and purchase new models en masse to field a respectable unit of these critters.  With the new plastic models, so the cost per model has come down since the days of metal gargoyles.  They’re now out around $3 each, which does put them at a fairly high cost-per point in the game though, so that still may be a barrier people aren’t willing to cross to field them.  Couple that with the fact that they’re a little unwieldy to move around the battlefield, and they’d better be a great choice if they’re going to see action.

Really, the de facto standard for cheap models in the Tyranid swarm is now the Termagant, so let’s compare, shall we?

  Gargoyle Termagant
Cost identical identical
Stats identical identical
Weapons Fleshborers Fleshborers & other guns you likely won’t use
Options Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs, Landing Spore
Specials Flying, blinding poison Scoring units,
Allow Tervigons to be taken as troops,
Benefit from Tervigon bonuses

In comparison, the ‘gant is better in almost every way… though I believe the gargoyles are still a reasonable option.  A couple of reasons why I can see people playing them:

  • Because gargoyles are cool, more readily available, and/or just another option to mix things up
  • Because gargoyles sit higher on the board.  With the new true-line-of-sight rules, between a unit of gargoyles and a unit of gaunts, you may be able to effectively make MC’s behind them completely untargettable.
  • With the proliferation of Termagants and Tervigons and there being only six available troop choices, a unit of gargoyles can provide respectable filler in a higher points game.
  • Play as a quick screening unit.  With flight, they can charge forward and potentially tie up the front lines of the enemy–thereby blocking LoS and letting the rest of your swarm catch up.  This was a role that was previously held by hormagaunts, but since they’ve lost their beasts, it might be up to the ‘goyles to pick up the slack.  (Thanks to Cole–who still doesn’t have a blog to link to–for adding this benefit)

I expect I’ll purchase some new models when they’re available, just because I like to have all of the options available to me.. and despite the fact that termies are seemingly better in about all ways, I’ll play with these.

How ’bout you?

Photo used without permission from Amazon.com.  What a super costume, eh?

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16 comments on “5th Ed. Tyranids: Gargoyles

  1. i think their purpose would be a fast moving harrassment unit that can easily tie up more deadly opponents while the rest of the swarm moves forward to engage them and actually kill them. take 2 squads of say 15, backed up by a 3 flying warrior squad for Synapse (which is also screened by the gargoyles as theyre not MC’s) Assault things like IG gun lines, Long fangs, dreadnoughts really anything that wont be able to wipe them out in mass in 1 turn of CC and that you dont want to deal with.

    i do not like the whole “cover 50% of MC’s because of flying base” thing, this just seems modeling for advantage if you ask me….

    also you listed drop pod for Gargs in your line up of the two.

  2. i think their purpose would be a fast moving harrassment unit that can easily tie up more deadly opponents while the rest of the swarm moves forward to engage them and actually kill them. take 2 squads of say 15, backed up by a 3 flying warrior squad for Synapse (which is also screened by the gargoyles as theyre not MC’s) Assault things like IG gun lines, Long fangs, dreadnoughts really anything that wont be able to wipe them out in mass in 1 turn of CC and that you dont want to deal with.

    i do not like the whole “cover 50% of MC’s because of flying base” thing, this just seems modeling for advantage if you ask me….

    also you listed drop pod for Gargs in your line up of the two.

  3. I am considering to take a squad of 10-15 in 2000 point games and the parasite of mortrex. The gargs give him cover and he gives them synapse control. I imagine you get a nice unit for advancing at one flank and start being dangerous around turn 2. Of course this unit may be wiped out by just one single lucky blast though. The other way to use them may be another nice counter charge unit, like assault marines, only much cheaper.
    So just my my initial thoughts and I may stand corrected after the first games. But at least I am going to buy a box or two of them.

  4. I am considering to take a squad of 10-15 in 2000 point games and the parasite of mortrex. The gargs give him cover and he gives them synapse control. I imagine you get a nice unit for advancing at one flank and start being dangerous around turn 2. Of course this unit may be wiped out by just one single lucky blast though. The other way to use them may be another nice counter charge unit, like assault marines, only much cheaper.
    So just my my initial thoughts and I may stand corrected after the first games. But at least I am going to buy a box or two of them.

  5. @Deep striking gargs: yes they can. Gargs are jump infantery and p.72 of the rulebook says, that all JI units can use the DS rule.

    • Ah. Touche there. Good pick-up. I’ll edit the article a little later on.

      I was really surprised that they were the only unit that couldn’t DS anymore.

  6. @Deep striking gargs: yes they can. Gargs are jump infantery and p.72 of the rulebook says, that all JI units can use the DS rule.

    • Ah. Touche there. Good pick-up. I’ll edit the article a little later on.

      I was really surprised that they were the only unit that couldn’t DS anymore.

  7. The more of these articles I read, the more I’m glad I take a decent mix of flamers in my armies… Cheers and keep ’em coming!

    FYI on your Termi/Garg comparison chart, the Specials line doesn’t wrap and is cut off by your column width. All that shows is “Scoring units, allow Tervigons to be taken a”. (Firefox 3.5.7) Or “Scoring units, allow Tervigons to be taken as t” (IE 8.0)

  8. The more of these articles I read, the more I’m glad I take a decent mix of flamers in my armies… Cheers and keep ’em coming!

    FYI on your Termi/Garg comparison chart, the Specials line doesn’t wrap and is cut off by your column width. All that shows is “Scoring units, allow Tervigons to be taken a”. (Firefox 3.5.7) Or “Scoring units, allow Tervigons to be taken as t” (IE 8.0)

  9. Gargoyles are, in many ways, stronger than Termagants- the 12″ move is a huge deal, especially when combined with a very limited range on their guns. They can also dash over intervening enemies to tie up shooty units in the backline, like Devastators. Finally, they come with automatic Superpoison- this is significantly better than Toxin Sacs, because it means a S3 unit can inflict some real damage to even an MC (including Wraithlords!)

    The ability to deliver the Parasite is also interesting, since there are only two other options- Shrikes (flying warriors) and Skyslasher Swarms (flying rippers). The former are very pricey and only have a 5+ save- they’re not an efficient “delivery vehicle” for my tastes, since you’re paying about 12 pts/wound for T4. Rippers are a lot cheaper, coming in at ~5 pts/wound, but they have several major vulnerabilities (blasts, S6+). Gargoyles are both cheap (3 wds = 18 pts, rather than 14 for basic rippers), have some use on their own (they come basic with guns and their poison) and aren’t inherently vulnerable to most things. Sure, flamers and light gunfire can wreck them, but you still can buy enough ablative wounds for the squad to virtually insure the Parasite getting to do his thing.

    When comparing Gargoyles to Termagants, you’re basically getting poison and 12″ move at the cost of scoring and a scoring Tervigon. All things considered, that’s a damn fine deal. I’m experimenting with using Gargoyles as part of my “first wave,” but that involves buying 60+ of them, so I’m gonna have to use proxies for a while. However, I think they make a fine addition to the Tyranid force, one that a lot of people underestimate.

  10. Gargoyles are, in many ways, stronger than Termagants- the 12″ move is a huge deal, especially when combined with a very limited range on their guns. They can also dash over intervening enemies to tie up shooty units in the backline, like Devastators. Finally, they come with automatic Superpoison- this is significantly better than Toxin Sacs, because it means a S3 unit can inflict some real damage to even an MC (including Wraithlords!)

    The ability to deliver the Parasite is also interesting, since there are only two other options- Shrikes (flying warriors) and Skyslasher Swarms (flying rippers). The former are very pricey and only have a 5+ save- they’re not an efficient “delivery vehicle” for my tastes, since you’re paying about 12 pts/wound for T4. Rippers are a lot cheaper, coming in at ~5 pts/wound, but they have several major vulnerabilities (blasts, S6+). Gargoyles are both cheap (3 wds = 18 pts, rather than 14 for basic rippers), have some use on their own (they come basic with guns and their poison) and aren’t inherently vulnerable to most things. Sure, flamers and light gunfire can wreck them, but you still can buy enough ablative wounds for the squad to virtually insure the Parasite getting to do his thing.

    When comparing Gargoyles to Termagants, you’re basically getting poison and 12″ move at the cost of scoring and a scoring Tervigon. All things considered, that’s a damn fine deal. I’m experimenting with using Gargoyles as part of my “first wave,” but that involves buying 60+ of them, so I’m gonna have to use proxies for a while. However, I think they make a fine addition to the Tyranid force, one that a lot of people underestimate.

  11. You gotta love gargoyles … the models are lush and very easy to paint (compared to most nids) … the Parasite is really what Gargoyles are about … that and the ability to swamp a low hitting MC with a healthy chance to kill it! The Parasite offers Lictor type strength for antitank, but with 30 odds ablative wounds. The ability to spam rippers means that if the Parasite can jump on an outlying unit without S8 – he's nearly guaranteed to produce some serious Rippers.5 attacks on the charge at S6 with awesome and is death to imperial guard heavy weapons teams. That's 2.78 kills average a turn (before saving throws) and that'll produce rippers 50% of the time with Guard and 33% of the time with Marines. That's D6 rippers a turn in my book – very very nice. Once he has a 'horde' simply bulk up and slaughter – sending the 'free' Rippers in first to take the brunt…

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