5th Edition Tyranids: Harpies

In the new Tyranid codex where Apocalypse models rear their ugly heads, Harpies are the Harridans of the casual gamers.  While the Trygon made his appearance full-force in the new codex, the Harpy comes out as more of a gateway drug towards Harridans (and who could blame them with Forgeworld charging upwards of $300 for the model!).  Before I get too far off tangent though, this review isn’t about Forgeworld, or the Harridan, but the Harpy:

The Good

They provide a relatively cheap and fast moving anti-tank solution for the army, without eating up one of the much valued elite slots.  They also provide the capability of putting Monstrous Creatures in every different slot of the Force Organization Chart.

They’re one of the only fast moving anti-tank options in the entire codex (the other beings a flying tyrant, or any anti-tank standing near a Tervigon with Onslaught), and are far cheaper than the other two solutions.  In fact, arming a Hive Tyrant in a similar fashion as a stock Harpy would run you 50% more without the re-rolls to hit, or the cluster spines.  They come with a “twin-linked stranglethorn cannon” (which, is effectively a “heavy barbed strangler,” but for some reason, it needed it’s own name, where the VC version did not), that can be upgraded to a twin-linked venom cannon for a mere 10 points.

They also have access to deploy via deep-strike (as jump infantry), adrenaline sacs, toxin sacs, regeneration (for cheaper than most bugs!), a bounty of template weapons, and a screech that makes even Howling Banshees think twice in combat.

The Bad

Well, for 160 pts, and being a monstrous creature, she’s not overly durable.  With toughness 5 and a 4+ save, it won’t stand up to much abuse (with or without regeneration).  Likewise, despite having some nifty rules specific for the assault phase, it just doesn’t have much oompf there–and would be advised to avoid assault almost completely.

Also, for being a shooty-specific monster, it only has a BS of 3.  Granted, the main weapon is twin-linked, but still… it would be nice if you could depend upon it hitting.

Likewise, with the lack of synapse granting eternal warrior, anything with less than toughness 6 now has something new to worry about.  Granted, there aren’t a ton of str10 guns out there, but it’s just one more thing to consider.  Losing a 160pt model to a single shot is far too Imperial-Guard-esque for my likes… 😛

Another thing to consider is that there is no model currently available from GW.  Though it’s easy enough to convert your own, there is a fair bit of effort involved in that.  And when you do convert, most of the time you’ll come up with a floating model that will rarely (if ever) have the luxury of hiding behind cover (especially since it’s a MC and therefore has to be obscured 50% or more to count).  So, you’re talking about a unit that moves fast, and may quickly move out of range of synapse (which it can largely ignore with it’s high leadership), but it will also lose the benefit of cover (if it had any to begin with).  When you consider it’s already fairly flimsy (for a monstrous creature), it’s certainly something to think about before you field them…

The Ugly

Of the available weapons options, the best choice seems to be a (twin-linked) heavy venom cannon & cluster spines.  This allows them to pop tanks from afar (or at least disable them for a turn), while still having an option to take care of pesky infantry units.  While Stinger-Salvo handles infantry halfway reasonably, it just doesn’t hold up to cluster spines for two reasons:

  1. It’s limited to hitting a maximum of four models.
  2. It won’t likely hit often with the salvo, but with a 5″ template, the cluster spines will hit the target you’re aiming for more than 80% of the time (33% hit, and then any scatter roll equal to or less than 8).  Hell, that’s better than having a BS of 4!

Essentially, it provides another variant for armor busting at long range (the only such variant for the Fast Attack slot).  I still maintain that a viable army needs 3-4 choices that can fill this role, so a mixture of these, zoanthropes, hive guard, and other beasties armed with HVC’s will provide a nice balance in a force.

All in all, they’re a decent addition to your force, but keep in mind they’re fragile.  And the best way to counter that is to just give your opponent too many things to shoot at!

Image used without permission from http://www.cafepress.com

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4 comments on “5th Edition Tyranids: Harpies

  1. I've got to chime in and say that personally, I love the Harpy.I run mine at 185 points:Cluster Spines, HVC and Regeneration.And as hard as i'd like to, they are all but impossible to keep alive without doing 1 thing. get into CC with a non-dedicated CC Unit. Tac squads come to mind as a harpy will eat a few, take a wound or two in return, and by the time they get down to less wounds, they'll likely to have recovered one or two.Note that I run my nids a bit differently though. I run 2 harpies at 1500 points, with 2 troop tervs, and 2 units of Zoanthropes. you'll see those railguns and other S10 weaponry pointed at the bigger “Threat” of the Zoanthropes, and you'll see the Harpies shutting down the opponent's big guns for a turn, or outright killing the broadsides. (obviously there are a few tau players here…)I love running MC's though so my “flavor” is not for everyone.Also i love converting so… yeah.

  2. Harpies are really only viable at high and low points values; at 2K+, they can take some of the burden of AT off your Elites and HS slots, allowing you to slot some extra tricks like Deathleaper and Trygons. At low point values, enemies generally won't have the concentrated, long-range firepower to deal with them.For the former case, you really need to have some Tyrannofexes or other MCs for them to stand behind, because without the cover save they are simply too easy of prey for the ubiquitous Autocannon and Heavy Bolter. Regeneration is a good option as well, as they're one of the few MCs that can actually run off and hide while they heal up. Tervigons are also a good pairing with the Harpy, as they also like to hang in the backlines, can give cover, provide Synapse, and can pass out FNP to make them a but more resilient.Do NOT assault things with a Harpy unless you are getting desperate or they only have a couple models left. They're pretty much on par with Tervis in an assault, offensively speaking, and are much weaker defensively (take twice as many wounds due to T5 vs T6, Scout save instead of Marine). In rare cases you might want to combined assault with a Harpy and some other unit in order to strike ahead of a high-I unit, but this is worthless for charging into cover unless your opponent is I2 to start.Also, the Elites slot does not have any MCs. Dohoho.

  3. nice points AP, just 1 wrong that I see, Mycetic spores are MCs though crappy ones at that, but do come in the elite slots

  4. Whoa… you just blew my mind there. I never considered that Toughness 5takes (in general) twice as many wounds as toughness 6. I've really lookedat it as 1/6 or 17%, but against piddly stuff like bolter fire, and generich2h, he will get wounded twice as much. That seems rather rough.Thanks for pointing out that (seemingly obvious) comparison. Helped open myeyes.

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