Our Fast Attack choices benefit a lot from upgrades and additional weaponry, particularly in the case of Shrikes, Raveners and Gargoyles. Harpies and the like don't necessarily need upgrades to be effective, though they do have a few options available to them that change their role. Generally speaking, your Fast Attack units are designed either for mobile anti-infantry shooting or fast anti-infantry melee, with little real deviation. Gargoyles are the most cost-effective, though Shrikes and Raveners demand some attention as well. Think about fast moving units in other slots when looking at the Fast Attack section first and foremost.
Tyranid Shrikes - Flying Warriors! With wi...oh never mind. Anyway, Shrikes are essentially Warriors with a weaker armour save, a slightly higher base cost and, as you might have guessed, wings. Shrikes, despite not being a Troops choice, essentially fill the same role as Warriors - providing Synapse and Shadow in the Warp, though they are mobile and thus fit well with other fast-moving elements, such as Gargoyles. Again like Warriors, they can be kitted out for some fast-moving ranged firepower, or hard-hitting melee. The latter one is where Shrikes really shine; with their speed, the inclusion of Hammer of Wrath, and the general lack of AP2 weapons at Initiative, Shrikes equipped with Boneswords are amongst the most devastating close-combat units in the game - at least when used against elite infantry such as Terminators and medium infantry like Space Marines. They even put out enough attacks to wade through hordes with relative ease. They are expensive though, and if you give them other upgrades which dramatically increase their combat effectiveness - such as the effervescent Toxin Sacs and useful Adrenal Glands - each model will cost in excess of 50 coyotes.
Though they will mulch through many similarly-costed units in combat, their durability to points ratio doesn't favour them well - like Warriors, they are Battle Cannon or Missile Launcher bait, and owing to their faster nature, they are far more obvious targets too. Shrikes also fall victim to having a +5 armour save, making them quite vulnerable to massed Bolter fire. As such, they require a great deal of finesse to get into the thick of it; jumping from cover to cover, spreading the wounds with smart wound-allocation, and so on. Be careful when charging into cover though, as both the charge is not guaranteed and Shrikes lack assault grenades, meaning they can be harmed quite badly before they strike. As long as you don't go overboard on upgrades, you won't be too frustrated if they die quickly - target saturation is always a big factor for competitive Tyranid armies, and Shrikes are a great way to add to that if your opponent has even the faintest idea of what they are capable of. Very few jump-infantry units in the game compare in melee, though obviously those units usually are nowhere near as costly. Overall, Shrikes are a very good unit to use, but you really need to be careful with them - make them too obvious a target, or upgrade them too much, and you may find they rarely prove their worth.
Raveners - These are comfortably the fastest non-flying monstrous creature units in the Tyranid codex, being Beasts - they have a 12" movement that is not slowed or harmed by terrain, and have Fleet to boot. They share an almost identical profile to Shrikes - with the key differences being their higher Initiative and Attacks, but the loss of Synapse and Shadow in the Warp. As Beasts, they are more reliable in the movement and assault phase than Shrikes, but lose out on Hammer of Wrath. As well, their inclusion means you may need to find mobile synapse elsewhere; however, Raveners are, strangely, a unit that functions very well outside of Synapse range - with Rage, they don't derp out and instead gain an incredible 6 attacks per model on the charge! Did I mention Raveners come with two sets of Scything Talons, WS5 and I5? As you can likely determine, Raveners are obviously a fast assault unit designed to harass enemy units and give enemy artillery/long-range units, such as Havocs and Devastators, a very serious problem - with the Raveners likely to charge in two turns, those units are forced into either shooting at the Raveners and maybe killing them before they attack or ignoring them to focus on the big beasties, guaranteeing their deaths. Raveners are amazing in this role and should always have their speed exploited as much as possible.
Raveners, however, have some of the same issues as Shrikes; namely, a weak armour save, the lack of assault grenades, and lots of useful upgrades that you need to keep in moderation. Costing the same as a Warrior, Raveners are costly and their upgrades make them considerably more-so. In general, you should take Rending Claws on Raveners - they increase their cost somewhat, but make them a serious threat to light vehicles, monstrous creatures and well armoured opponents, such as Terminators. They are more efficient against almost every unit type, except for hordes, but Raveners shouldn't charge into hordes anyway. You can take guns on Raveners, but it does change their role a bit - don't take Rending Claws and guns, they simply become too much of a points-sink. If you want to take ranged weapons, give them Devourers or Spinefists, the latter of which while less useful on units such as Termagants is far better on Raveners owning to their high number of attacks. A common tactic is giving them Spinefists and Deep Striking out of the ground, surprising your opponent and killing a chunk of infantry. Usually though, I would avoid giving them guns and keep them with Rending Claws - they are at home in combat, and they are safest there as well. Raveners are a good, if expensive (but what isn't in the Tyranid army?) unit that are great diversionary attackers.
Sky-Slasher Swarms - Rippers that have adapted into jump infantry, Sky-Slashers sadly suffer from the same basic issues as Rippers - they are over-costed, they are ineffective, their upgrades are too expensive and provide mediocre boosts, and, laughably, they still die when outside of Synapse. When you consider that Sky-Slashers have wings for the purpose of tarpitting units much quicker, and thus require mobile synapse, you should only ever use them if you have Shrikes or Flying Hive Tyrants handy. Clocking in at one and a half times the cost of a normal Ripper Swarm, Sky-Slashers are decent in the sense that they will get to their quarry much quicker, though, again, you are still paying too much for a very ineffective tar-pit - Hormagaunts are almost as quick, much cheaper, and far better in combat. Much like Rippers, I would usually avoid Sky-Slasher Swarms - however, they do make a decent and fluffy bodyguard for the Parasite of Mortrex.
Gargoyles - Very cost-effective flying Termagants - notice a theme going here? - that do combat far better than their scuttling ilk, due to their melee attacks causing an auto-wound on every to hit roll of a six. Being only a measly potato more than a standard Termagant, Gargoyles gain the very huge benefits of being Jump Infantry - they are twice as quick as Termagants and are thus far better at closing with the enemy quickly to provide decent anti-infantry firepower, or even charge certain units. Sadly, they do lose Move Through Cover, meaning they are susceptible to Dangerous Terrain tests. Still, they make up for it in yet another way - their upgrades, including Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs, are as cheap as they are for Termagants, or half as expensive as Hormagaunts get them for. Given their mobility and pseudo-Fantasy poison rule, Gargoyles make for great melee units - unlike Termagants, they neither benefit from nor need the support abilities of a Tervigon to do their job well. Twenty Gargoyles with both Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs will cost significantly less than twenty Hormagaunts upgraded similarly - though Gargoyles aren't Troops, they still fulfill the same basic role almost as well, if not better, for the points.
There are few negatives to taking Gargoyles - mostly, they are yet another cheap horde unit, but the one that is by far the most cost-effective. About the only consideration is what units to run them with - like anything in the Tyranid army, they are not designed to operate alone, as you want to keep them near Synapse creatures as normal. This is where Flying Hive Tyrants, Harpies, the Parasite of Mortrex and Shrikes come into play - three of the four units benefit the Gargoyles immensely, though the Gargoyles themselves prove to be excellent foils for those units too. The Parasite, for example, gets to join up with a very nasty unit that can soak up a lot of wounds. The flying monstrous creatures get bubble-wrap and mobile cover, with Shrikes enjoying the particular benefits of the latter. Overall, there is very little one can say against Gargoyles - they are a great unit that is almost imperative in an army list with other winged monsters. Take two broods of twenty, upgraded decently, and they will commonly be at the top of your MVP list.
Harpy - The only other flying monstrous creature Tyranids have access to, the Harpy suffers the unfortunate restriction of not being able to target flyers with any weaponry of real note - a S5 Vector Strike and four S5 shots simply do not cut it against most fliers in the game. If you are worried about anti-air, always go for a Flying Hive Tyrant with two twin-linked brain-leech devourers. Always. Now, onto what the Harpy does well - it is death incarnate to most infantry in the game, usually firing a S6 Pinning Large Blast, a S5 Large Blast, and firing a once-per-game D3 S4 AP4 large blasts. Put simply, it will obliterate hordes and blob-guard whilst putting on enough wounds to give even Space Marines a serious headache. It also has a S5 AP3 vector strike that ignores cover, which is best used against certain enemies - particularly those poor, poor Space Marines. Being a flying monstrous creature, it is hard as hell to shoot down, and it is exceedingly quick, compensating for the mediocre range of its weaponry. Due to being a monster, it can also in a pinch charge an enemy vehicle or even an isolated unit, such as a Long Fang squad, and tear them to shreds - obviously though, gliding at the wrong moment can leave a Harpy dangerously exposed to a counter-attack. As good as its anti-infantry firepower is, it is sadly very fragile as far as Tyranid monstrous creatures go - a Toughness of 5, four wounds and only a +4 armour save make it mince meat for Autocannons, particularly Hydras, that are in abundance in the current meta. Given their high cost, Harpies are a risky unit to use - they will lose any aerial duel, and be high priority targets for foot-slogging army lists.
The Harpy does have access to upgrades - Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs and Regeneration, though a Harpy typically requires none of these as its combat abilities don't need improvement - it is supposed to shoot anyway - and Regeneration, whilst cheaper for a Harpy, is still too random to justify its expense. It can swap out its two ranged weapons for alternates that make it more useful against ground vehicles, though I believe you should give these a miss as the Harpy does not do anti-tank particularly well at all, especially for the cost. At least when used solely as an anti-infantry platform, the Harpy shines - it can put out a lot of hurt very quickly, and in this way, it combines very well with Gargoyles and Flying Hive Tyrants for cover and target saturation. Whilst I find they are decent units, they are definitely over-costed, and as I have made clear before, Tyranids have anti-infantry firepower in abundance by taking any kind of basic army. They are best used only if you plan on using other flying units, as they are too fragile to justify their cost if used alone. A note I will make is their Sonic Screech ability - it halves the Initiative of enemy units in an assault for the first round. This works well with other units, though with readily available cover and the high Initiative of most Tyranids anyway, it isn't all that much of a boon. As far as the actual model goes, I would recommend purchasing a Trygon kit and getting your hands on a set of Flying Hive Tyrant wings - if that proves too costly, try getting a set of organic-looking wings elsewhere, either from Forge World or Games Workshop. It would require a lot of conversion work, but I would say it will be worth it if you do it correctly - just keep in mind that an actual Harpy model may very well be released in the coming year.
Spore Mine Cluster - Living bombs that explode the second any enemy unit gets within 2" of them, Spore Mine Clusters are a bit of an odd duck out - they deep-strike on to the board before any units are deployed, and if any of them scatter into impassable terrain or off the board, the entire unit dies. Once they've landed, each Spore Mine in the cluster is treated as an individual Spore Mine during the game. You can't even control them once the game starts - they drift D6" in a random direction at the start of each turn, and are removed if they move into impassable terrain or off the board. They aren't cheap either - at least, not per model, as their squad sizes are very small as far as Tyranids go. Once something does touch them or get too close, they do quite a bit of damage - you centre a S4 AP4 large blast over the Spore Mine, hitting anything nearby. Not bad at all. You might be thinking that against armies with light infantry, such as Tau or Eldar, these can be a great scare tactic - unfortunately, because they deploy before every other unit does, a smart opponent can simply ignore them, or, even better, tank shock them with vehicles and watch them combust harmlessly. As such, their best use is to attempt to deep-strike them onto an objective that is out of the way - they will literally die the second they are shot by anything, with one Toughness 1 wound and no saves each. I don't rate them personally, and the points are far better off invested elsewhere, but for laughs, why not?
Example Builds - Here are some good or decent ways to run our much loved Fast Attack choices;
Shrikes (6) w/ lash whip and bonesword - 300
Raveners (6) w/ rending claws - 210
Gargoyles (20) w/ adrenal glands, toxin sacs - 160
Raveners (6) w/ spinefists - 210
Carnifex - One of the most well known Tyranid organisms, the Carnifex is a living tank used for the sole purpose of battering enemy fortifications and tanks, whilst scything through infantry with ease - at least, that's how it works in the background. The sad and painful truth is that a Carnifex is an over-costed monstrous creature that needs to be turned into a gun platform to be anywhere near viable. Despite being close-combat oriented, it has a mediocre WS and an Initiative of 1 - that last one means that, for the most part, it will be striking at the same time as power fists and meltabomb; meaning it will get chomped very quickly by most units. Even krak-grenade toting Space Marines will give it a lot to think about. Though its battering ram rule does make it Initiative 3 on the charge, the prevalence of cover, and the fact that most enemies are Initiative 4 or higher anyway, doesn't help all that much - even with frag spines (assault grenades), a Carnifex still can't single out power fists in a unit and will surely be walloped. The biggest problem the Carnifex faces is the competition within the codex - for only a small investment, you can get yourself a Trygon that is literally twice as effective in combat, and much faster to boot. You might think, well, a Carnifex can take a Mycetic Spore and a Trygon can't, but Trygons can deep-strike with the same scatter-reduction rules that a Mycetic Spore comes with. Essentially, a Carnifex pays for abilities that are greatly inferior to that of the Trygon.
So what else can a Carnifex do aside from being a mediocre combat monster? Well, the good news is that against walkers, tanks and skimmers (but not fliers), a Carnifex can quite capably destroy them with little difficulty - S9 base, including Hammer of Wrath, plus its re-rolls to hit due to Scything Talons make it a fantastic wrecking ball against heavily armoured vehicles. Don't waste them on transports and the like - you have Hive Guard for that. Even then, a Carnifex isn't quick enough to really justify being used in that way. Don't give it the melee-oriented upgrades - Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs are virtually useless on a model with S9, and Crushing Claws are too expensive on a model that both struggles to hit and doesn't usually need to Smash anyway. Regeneration and Bio Plasma are too expensive for what they give you - Bio Plasma is essentially a Plasma Cannon with a third of the range, meaning it can scatter onto friendly forces quite easily, and Regeneration is too random and expensive to use. Seriously though, why does Regeneration cost as much on a 4 wound monstrous creature as it does on a 6 wound monstrous creature with the same Toughness and armour save!? The Carnifex, like the Pyrovore, will simply leave you scratching your head, especially when put next to a Trygon - there is simply no reason for it to be over-costed the way it is given its mediocre profile.
If you want to use the awesome looking Carnifex, you should be happy to find that there is a way to run them that is very much worthwhile - replace both their scything talons with the lauded pair of twin-linked brain-leech devourers. This build is commonly labelled the 'Dakkafex' - putting out 12 S6 twin-linked shots a turn, a Dakkafex is a serious threat to transports, infantry, and even fliers, all at a decent price. Though I would still say it is over-costed, it at least will help out your army quite a bit, especially if you are using Zoanthropes or Ymgarls instead of Hive Guard. Even then, a mech-heavy meta can lead to a mixture of Hive Guard and Dakkafexes - durable anti-tank platforms that will regularly pull their weight. I wouldn't bother with any of the other ranged weapons, as they are all out-performed by the brain-leech devourers. One thing to consider when using a Dakkafex is whether you want to shell out and grab it a Mycetic Spore, or run it in a pair. A very common unit for a Tyranid Prime to join is a 'Fexstar' consisting of two or three Dakkafexes, providing both an insanely durable gun platform and a unit few enemies would want to get close to. Everyone loves wound allocation shenanigans! However, the lone Dakkafex in a Spore combines really well with other deep-striking units, such as the Doom of Malan'tai or Zoanthropes. Either way you go is costly, but they are both effective in 6th Edition and well worth your consideration. If you aren't using Carnifexes in either of those builds though, you will likely be disappointed.
Old One Eye - A long ode to a forgotten era wherein the combat Carnifex was viable, Old One Eye is one of the most painfully over-costed units in the entire codex - and much like the rest of the Tyranid range, he sports an awesome model too! Why do the mediocre or bad units have to have the best models? Anyway, Old One Eye is a grossly expensive unit that is essentially a Carnifex upgraded with Crushing Claws, a better version of Regeneration, and a cool ability that gives it some potential bonus attacks, all at S10. Strangely, Old One Eye also lets every Tyranid within 12" can use Old One Eye's Leadership of 8 for any Morale or Leadership tests they are required to make - generally speaking, this is situational at best as most Tyranids that would benefit from it should be in Synapse range and thus be Fearless anyway. Aside from that, well, that really is all there is that makes Old One Eye unique - it is essentially a much costlier version of a unit for few gains based upon a unit that was already too expensive for what it does. If that doesn't give you the best indication of how I feel about Old One Eye, consider this; for a mere twenty paddles more, you can grab the Swarmlord.
How does Old One Eye compare to the Swarmlord? Here; the Swarmlord has more wounds, provides Synapse in a larger than normal bubble, provides Shadow in the Warp, has an invulnerable save in close combat, has a ridiculously higher Weapon Skill, has a far higher Initiative, has a higher Leadership, is a Mastery Level 2 psyker, it can make itself even more powerful or buff friendly units, hands out Preferred Enemy or Furious Charge like candy, forces opponents to re-roll successful invulnerable saves, always inflicts instant death, and can be hidden by bodyguards. What does Old One Eye get? A higher Strength and the chance of a few bonus attacks and Regenerating wounds. Here's a tip; the Swarmlord wins by a country mile. Don't bother with Old One Eye, unless you really like the model or don't care about competitive play. I've yet to meet someone that doesn't like Old One Eye, but he is nothing but a sad joke, and it really pains me to say it. If it weren't for Pyrovores or perhaps Lictors, Old One Eye would be the worst unit in the codex, period, to be brutally honest.
Biovores - Artillery! FIRE! Ahem, Biovores are one of two long-range shooty units in the codex, providing some nasty anti-infantry firepower - they launch Spore Mines, as discussed earlier. A S4 AP4 large blast using the Barrage rules is nothing to sneeze at - particularly because of the AP4 and Barrage rules. So on top of wiping out Tau, Eldar and the like, the Barrage rules make cover a pain for those units to come by, and also allow for 'sniping' - with wounds allocated from the centre of the hole, some decent scatter rolls can lead to units being neutered. Your oncoming Trygons worried about the plasma gun and missile launcher at the back of that Tacitcal Squad? Hit them with a Biovore, and as long as you get it where you want, you should kill both of them with no difficulty. All of a sudden, that Trygon which was likely going to lose several wounds to that Tactical Squad from shooting can move up and charge with not a care in the world. What about that nasty Necron Lord with Mindshackle Scarabs daring your Hive Tyrant to get in to the unit. Give him some Spore Mine love - with a bit of luck, the Lord will be done and dusted, literally. It is in this way that Biovores are so useful in almost every single game you will play in 6th Edition - even Space Marines will suffer when Biovores are around, due to the large amount of wounds they can dish out. They aren't really costly either, costing - I don't whether this is sad or humorous - as much as a Pyrovore for oh so much more.
So what do you need to worry about with Biovores? Well, they have essentially the same exact sta-line as a Pyrovore, and are thus easily instant-killed by weapons such as missile launchers, or brought down with massed fire. Unlike Pyrovores, Biovores neither need to be close or, provided they don't fail an Instinctive Behaviour test, need Line of Sight to shoot their quarry - hide them in your backfield with some kind of Synapse creature plonked on a nearby objective, and they will do just fine. Also, if their shot scatters off and hits nothing, you get a free Spore Mine! Hooray! Yet another reason you shouldn't bother with Spore Mine Clusters. Keeping on the Biovores, as long as you protect them adequately and keep them away from concentrated shooting and melee units, they will work out very well - a great unit overall.
Trygon - Ask yourself a question; do you want a melee powerhouse of a monstrous creature that acts as both the perfect line-breaker and will scare the pants off of any opponent, all for a very efficient price? If you answered yes, say hello to the Trygon! (If you answered no....seriously?) A Trygon is a dedicated combat unit that has very reliable ways of getting there - namely, it is very tough, quick due to Fleet, and can even deep-strike without fear of mishaps, except for scattering off the board. With a Toughness of six, six wounds and a +3 armour save, the Trygon is a tough as nails monster, one that usually suffers from being too big a target for your opponent and too hard to obscure - fortunately, the 6th Edition cover rules means that a Trygon can simply be touching a part of area terrain and gain a meaty cover save, all the while still maintaining a very high speed! It has a shooting attack to help it out on the way, which is nothing shabby - S5 AP5 Assault 6 at 12", decent for light vehicles and weaker infantry. Generally though, what you really want to know are its combat abilities - it has an incredible six Weapon Skill 5 attacks at S6 I4 base, re-rolling all failed to hit rolls! You guessed it - this will run rampant through Infantry of nearly any kind, especially standard Terminators. And against vehicles, it puts out three or more Smash attacks that are unlikely to miss, meaning that almost any unit in the game is literally screwed if this thing gets close. Of course, any opponent - even those who don't know what a Trygon does - will prioritize its immediate death due to how big and scary it is, not to mention how quickly it moves.
These things are absolutely fantastic as linebreakers, notably because they can both soak up the damage and deal it out in amazing quantitites. Their speed and reliable deep-striking means they have multiple viable ways of getting to the enemy, though generally speaking I would advise running them up the field - whilst they may get shot down this way, they provide an incredible threat for your opponent and will boost your target saturation immensely. Your Tervigons and Hive Tyrants should be able to move up untouched if the Trygon does its job and you use cover smartly. If it does make it, prepare to wreak some joyous carnage. Ultimately, how you deploy them should be situational - in certain cases, deep-striking them in conjunction with other reserved units can provide a very nasty selection of threats that emerge all at once, forcing your opponent to literally turn and fire at the nearest units in a haze of confusion. Trygons also benefit your Reserves - any reserved Infantry can emerge the turn after a Trygon has deep-struck from where it emerged - placing them within 6", and letting them shoot as normal. This is definitely useful, but not all that great. As far as Instinctive Behaviour goes, Trygons also benefit immensely from being naturally Fearless and having Rage - no-one wants a Trygon charging them, let alone one with eight attacks! As such, you generally don't need to worry if a Trygon gets out of Synapse range, which is likely to happen anyway due to their speed.
As far as upgrades go, Trygons can take Adrenal Glands, Toxin Sacs and Regeneration - the first and third generally aren't all that great on a Trygon, as the Smash rule compensates for the Strength bonus applied by Furious Charge, and Regeneration is still too unreliable to justify the cost. However, Toxin Sacs are absolutely brutal on a Trygon - essentially guaranteeing it will kill whatever it hits, and making it far deadlier against other monstrous creatures. Talos' and Wraithlords won't be smiling if you hit them on 3s with re-rolls, then wound them on 4s, ignoring their armour. Want to know what happens with a Raging Trygon with Toxin Sacs? Here's a hint - that is almost an entire Tactical Squad gone in one round. If you want to spend any more points on a Trygon - remembering that they are expensive - take Toxin Sacs. The other upgrade that you should consider is turning the Trygon into a Trygon Prime - it's shooting attack gains double the amount of shots, it becomes a Synapse and Shadow in the Warp-generating creature, and it becomes a character. Whilst the upgrade is expensive, it is worthwhile most of the time - usually though, taking a Prime upgrade should be based on the rest of your army. If you are low on mobile Synapse, a Prime becomes invaluable - similarly, the extra shots make it a deadly alpha-strike unit against vehicles, deep-striking behind a tank and promptly destroying it. Being a character both works for and against you; it can single out power fists and the like and kill them before they can hurt it, but in turn, it can be tarpitted for an extra turn, meaning it will likely emerge at the end of your assault phase and thus be shot by your opponent immediately. It also isn't nice to be locked in a challenge with someone like Draigo and be unable to kill some Paladins before the Trygon Prime bites it, though Shadow in the Warp works wonders in mitigating Force Weapons. Either way, whichever kind of Trygon you choose, you really can't go wrong - they are a great unit that, whilst costly, I feel has a justified points cost and will regularly shine. This is what a close-combat Carnifex wishes it could be like.
Mawloc - The kit-broodling to a Trygon, the Mawloc is very much a unit based around disruption and terror-tactics rather than straight out aggression like a Trygon - though obviously a Trygon can be used in this role as well. Generally speaking, a Mawloc does disruption better than a Trygon, and a Trygon is a better line-breaker than a Mawloc. Essentially, when a Mawloc emerges from Reserves, it scatters but isn't moved away if it hits friendly or enemy units. Instead, you get to place a large blast marker over the centre point of where the Mawloc is emerging - all models touched suffer a S6 AP2 hit that strikes vehicles on their rear armour. Any surviving models are moved out of the way so the Mawloc can be placed, staying 1" away from it as normal, with vehicles keeping their previous facing - any models that can't get out of the way are destroyed! Obviously, this attack does some great things; namely, it will kill almost the entirety of most squads it hits and it has a decent chance of severely damaging most vehicles, as well as moving enemy units into better positions for your other units to attack them. This also serves as a great way of breaking up 'castle' formations, which Tyranids typically struggle to deal with. A Mawloc that, with some good scatter dice, emerges in a congested position, can do some amazing damage. We haven't even touched the best part of this attack - the Mawloc can Burrow on its next turn and do it again the turn after, meaning it can perform this attack a maximum of three times in each game. Due to the randomness of the attack, especially given that it doesn't ignore cover saves, this may not be all that great, as it really is the Mawloc's defining feature, but when it hits, it will usually do enough damage that you won't mind its usual inaccuracy. Some other cool stuff to note is that it has Hit and Run and gets Rage like a Trygon when it fails an Instinctive Behaviour test, giving it some extra punch and the welcome ability to get out of unwanted combats.
Like a Trygon, a Mawloc has six Toughness six wounds and a +3 armour save, though the price of its special attack is that it lacks any ranged weapons and is much weaker in combat. Even though it is still a monstrous creature, it only has three WS3 attacks at Initiative 4, making it much less of a threat in combat - however, it is still perfectly capable of tieing up ranged units, such as Tactical Marines, and slowly chomping through them, or destroying vehicles somewhat reliably. Mawlocs don't really benefit from the upgrades either. It is also quite a bit cheaper than a Trygon, but generally speaking, Trygons work better in most Tyranid armies - given that all-reserve army lists are no longer possible with the Swarm, Trygons are very important as line-breaker units that give an army a lot of target saturation. Mawlocs simply can't fulfill the same role, their only real saving grace being that they too are big, scary and durable - though you will usually want them burrowed for their special attack anyway. Typically, the best way to deploy a Mawloc is not by deep-striking them - deploy them normally, as they can Burrow on the first turn and thus be guaranteed to emerge on the second turn, rather than having to roll for reserves. This also can help your army out, as an opponent may focus on them to hopefully stop them from doing their attack. Just don't leave them out in the open and they can feasibly soak up some wounds that you don't want going on your other units. Mawlocs, obviously, work better in reserve-heavy armies. For the most part, I can't say much against Mawlocs, though they are generally outperformed by Trygons, so whilst I would usually give them a miss, they are a very decent option.
Tyrannofex - A Tyranid Tyrannosaurus Rex? Sadly, no. It is a fat, ugly mass bristling with guns, and also holds the distinction of being the most insanely durable monstrous creature in a standard Warhammer 40000 codex; a Tyrannofex has Toughness 6, 6 wounds and a +2 armour save. Problem Missile Launchers? These things are nearly impossible to kill, and are one of the few units where Regeneration may not be such a bad idea, mostly because of how laughably hard it is to kill them conventionally. Lets look at some of their other stats; like a Tervigon, they are kind of weak in combat, though they do have a higher Strength value - unfortunately, unlike a Tervigon, they can't take Crushing Claws to take full advantage of the Smash rules. They also are Initiative 1, making them prey to Initiative tests that can kill them, such as Jaws of the World Wolf. They also aren't a synapse creature, and suffer from Lurk - which can be bad considering their weapons are medium to short range. So what makes a Tyrannofex tick? For starters, they come with Cluster Spines or a Stinger Salvo, a Thorax Swarm, and an Acid Spray. That equates to either a S5 AP- large blast or a S5 AP4 Assault 4 gun, a flamer template with different firing modes selected before the game - the best of which always wounds non-vehicle units on a +2 - and a second flamer template that essentially has the Torrent rule, resolved at S6 AP4. This makes them unparalleled infantry hunters, at least as far as Tyranid monstrous creatures go. However, they can also switch the Acid Spray out for one of two weapon options - the Rupture Cannon, or the Fleshborer Hive. The latter is terrible and should be avoided - except for conversion opportunities, notably to give a Flying Hive Tyrant a pair of twin-linked brain-leech devourers. The former is an interesting if unappealing option that is the only long-range anti-tank weapon in the entire Tyranid army - it is considered by many for that reason alone, and not because of its effectiveness. Two S10 AP4 shots at 48" hitting on 4s sounds neat, but really isn't all that great in practice - half will hit on average, and with no damage modifiers, you are unlikely to destroy a vehicle, with no guarantee of even penetrating it. It is too unreliable, especially given that it is actually a paid upgrade.
For the most part, I would always keep a Tyrannofex kitted out this way, as its anti-tank form is too unreliable for the cost - Cluster Spines, Thorax Swarm with Dessicator Larvae, and the Acid Spray. That gives you some ridiculous anti-infantry firepower that, with some luck, can wipe out entire Tactical Squads in one go quite feasibly. If you do want its anti-tank firepower, give it the Stinger Salvo, Thorax Swarm with Electroshock Grubs, and the Rupture Cannon. Regardless of how you equip it though, be mindful of the sobering fact that a Tyrannofex is ludicrously expensive - weighing in at the same cost as most Land Raiders. I don't feel it is worth it, giving the recent turn towards massed plasma weaponry that essentially make light work of a Tyrannofex. However, it is still a decent option to consider, as it can undoubtedly soak up ridiculous amounts of firepower - it will make Long Fangs cry, for sure. Even Grey Knights will struggle with it, especially if a Shadow in the Warp creature is nearby. I would reserve these for bigger games, where they aren't so much of a points-sink. As far as a line-breaker goes, they are good, but outperformed again by Trygons.
Example Builds - Though our heavy support options tend to have only a few viable builds each, here are some for your consideration;
Carnifex w/ two twin-linked brain-leech devourers, mycetic spore - 230
Biovores (2) - 90
Trygon w/ toxin sacs - 210
Tyrannofex w/ cluster spines, thorax swarm with dessicator larvae, acid spray - 250
Carnifexes (2) w/ two twin-linked brain-leech devourers - 380
Final Thoughts and Summary
Codex: Tyranids is a much maligned book, notably for how much the army struggled to deal with mechanized forces in 5th Edition, as well as the general over-costing of many units and terribly confused rules of others. Thankfully, 6th Edition breathed new life into the Swarm in countless ways - with foot-slogging armies becoming more common-place, the changes to Barrage weapons, the loss of No Retreat! wounds, more easily hit vehicles in combat, an influx of cover saves and better Feel No Pain for monstrous creatures, hull points on vehicles, flying monstrous creatures and so much more. Hive Tyrants with wings are now premier transport and light flier hunters, and benefit greatly from the new psychic powers - particularly Iron Arm, Warp Speed and Endurance from Biomancy. Biovores are highly effective 'sniper' units, effectively neutralizing units relying on special or heavy weapons to deal with monstrous creatures. Zoanthropes are amongst the most versatile units in the codex, with access to so many new random psychic powers that each brood member can select individually - support and damage go hand in hand with the brain bugs! And with the new editions' focus on objectives, Tervigons paired with Termagants are now some of the best Troops choices you can find in any army when they work in unison - creating fast moving hordes that can all score objectives, backed by a relentlessly durable monster that can capture objectives as well! Hormagaunts, with Fearless no longer causing extra wounds in a lost combat, truly are amongst the most cost-effective melee horde units in the game, using their speed and numbers to overwhelm any foe. Harpies, now that they too can fly, are enjoying a new lease on life - even if they still aren't the best choice, they are no longer so easily killed. It all paints a bright picture for Tyranids.
Of course, there are the downsides too - with the changes to Fleet and assaulting out of reserves, Genestealers, Hormagaunts, Trygons and the like have suffered either minor or severe penalties - with Genestealers in particular now unable to pull off their only reliable means of getting into combat without suffering too many casualties. Tyrannofexes armed with Rupture Cannons are much less likely to wreck vehicles now, with the changes to the damage chart. Overwatch puts a serious dent in many of our assault units, and the introduction of random charge distances can be a major crippling factor for our already fragile melee units. Like with any player, it is necessary to take the bad with the good - as the mantra of our species, Hive Commanders need to adapt to these new circumstances, the conditions of war. As it is, our unique units are, perhaps surprisingly, enjoying a new lease on life - Deathleaper and Ymgarl Genestealers are now amongst the ultimate disruption units in the game, whilst the Doom of Malan'tai is even stronger than ever; if that was even possible! The Parasite of Mortrex has gained much due to the character and challenge rules - it can now Look Out Sir! wounds that would normally kill it instantly, and singling out a hidden power fist works in the Parasite's favour now. In particular, the Swarmlord has now earned the title of most deadly character-killer in the game - few can hope to even match the Swarmlord in a challenge, and when equipped with the new psychic disciplines, such as Biomancy or Telepathy, there is little hope of stopping it. Warriors too are clawing their way back into competitive armies, with the gradual meta shift towards plasma becoming more and more evident - instant death may no longer be as crippling an issue for so many of our multi-wound T4 models as it was before. Overall, I think the 6th Edition changes have given Tyranids a very welcome boost - many more units are now being seen in competitive armies, even if there have been some notable sacrifices, such as Genestealers. Of course though, the Broodlord has something to say about that - few codices can claim to have a character assassin of the quality and cost of a Broodlord.
But what about the codex internally? How has the meta shift affected the themes underlining the units? Not much has truly changed there - synergy is still the most important facet of the Tyranid army, with more and more tantalising combinations discovered every day. Tervigons and Termagants are enjoying a renaissance of sorts, with objective games now the norm. Conversely, Gargoyles paired with Harpies or Flying Hive Tyrants are even more dangerous than ever. Combined assaults consisting of Hormagaunts and Trygons will still devastate any foe when used smartly, whilst Hive Guard and Zoanthropes are even more deadly at dispatching vehicles and heavy infantry alike in unison - though Deny the Witch is now a cause for concern with Zoanthropes. All units should still be considered firstly for their role in the army, not their cost-effectiveness or immediate profile - hence why a Mawloc or Deathleaper may become so much more useful when paired with the Doom of Malan'tai, Genestealers and their ilk, rather than a Trygon or the Swarmlord. Fast moving armies need multiple threats of similar speeds to execute combined assaults and provide too many targets for opponents to adequately deal with. The Doom of Malan'tai, though a fantastic suicide unit, will need some support, especially if the drop doesn't go well. And yes, Nidzilla is indeed back - with cover saves far easier to come by, the new monster benefits, and the edition shift away from missile launchers and the like, Warriors and the rest should work better than ever.
The theme still holds true to this day though, no matter what unit you select - synergy above all else, it is why each unit must have a specific goal, and each unit must work together to achieve those goals. Sacrificial units are common in a Tyranid army, and every skirmish must be approached delicately with a considered, calm mind. Despite the many improvements Tyranids have gained overall, they are still a challenging army to master and not for beginners - they require not only an acute tactical mind, but also a strong army list made by an eye that can see beyond the efficiency of one unit, but look at how it correlates with other choices in the army. Trygons truly are the most cost-effective monstrous creature in the Heavy Support section, but will they work in every kind of army list? This is a question you must ask yourself when considering what units to select, and knowing how to use them is imperative. A Hive Tyrant with wings is deadly and fast, but should you be overly aggressive with it or let it skirt the flanks of your opponent? As with the race itself, a good Tyranid player will have to adapt to every situation on the fly - having a preset strategy in mind rarely works in today's game, particularly an army with as many in-built deficiencies and applications as Tyranids. Still, if you are willing to dedicate the ample time and money required to effectively do Tyranids justice, you will find they are a highly rewarding army that punishes mistakes and poor list-building whilst praising tactical nous and a notion of units working in perfect unison. No other codex quite approaches Tyranids in terms of a unified army, all forces synchronized to destruction and death. Nothing is as frightening - and unexpected, given their poor reputation - as a Swarm guided by a strong commander, consuming all before them with hordes ripping into infantry, monstrous creatures obliterating enemy positions and Hive Guard or Zoanthropes devastating vehicles from afar. Whether through the psychic choir, the monstrous horde, the unending tide, or an effective mixture - the choice is yours.
Create. Evolve. Consume.