Hey guys, my name is Learn2Eel, and today I'm going to be bringing you another article in the Tyranid Tactica series! Hive Crones are one of a handful of new additions to the Tyranid army range, bringing raw versatility, decent survivability and high speed all at a very affordable points cost. This is a unit that literally screams to be part of an army laden with flying monstrous creatures, and it certainly gives you quite a few reason to go up that route. I hope you enjoy this article!
The kit-sibling to the hotly anticipated Harpy model, the Hive Crone battles it out with the flying Trygon to determine just what is the most versatile Tyranid model in the army before any upgrades are considered. Instead of trying to directly compare them as the two are pretty distinct in their preferred targets, I will merely save myself from repeating what I wrote earlier and sum up the stats of the two beasts. The Crone has identical stats to a Harpy in every area, even the high Initiative 5. This means the Crone is a mediocre close combat fighter that is only saved by its unit type, a mediocre shooter in regards to Ballistic-Skill based weapons, and has low survivability for a monstrous creature unless it isn't facing Skyfire weaponry. Both get away with these seemingly weak stats by being so versatile and cheap, while being a flying monstrous creature does a lot for their durability in general - the extra mobility alone to avoid most close combat encounters is a big enough boon for these two. The Leadership 10 for both also means they really don't have to worry about Instinctive Behaviour, especially as both are Fearless anyway and are thus immune to the worst effects of both. In essence, both the Hive Crone and the Harpy are two of the best Tyranid non-Syanpse models in terms of self support, combining ferocious speed and good damage output with all the goodies that come with being a flying monstrous creature. The Crone, distinctly, has the Feed Instinctive Behaviour as opposed to the Harpies' Hunt, meaning it loses the ability to shoot but, importantly, can still Vector Strike and fly off the board. Alternatively, you can charge a fragile infantry unit if you want to keep the Crone active. Instinctive Behaviour really isn't a problem for these two!
Where the Crone really starts to differ from the Harpy is in its ranged damage output, and in the formers' lack of the Sonic Screech ability. The Crone, as such, lacks the insane combo-charge potential of a Harpy that can stymy the army-wide lack of assault grenades. While this is a downer, as well as the Crone being quite a bit more expensive, its versatility and shooting capabilities are absolutely top notch. First off, it can clear out large swathes of infantry with its Drool Cannon, a template weapon with very respectable Strength 6 and AP4. This means it will essentially annihilate entire squads of infantry from the Eldar, Tau, Necron and Imperial Guard armies with no saves allowed, even inflicting instant death on Toughness 3 characters. The only issue here is that it lacks the Torrent profile meaning it is limited by the movement of the Crone itself, an issue famously circumvented by the Chaos Space Marine Heldrake. I've found that while it will severely limit the hits you get each turn, particularly before your Crone gets into the enemy deployment zone in the first turn or two, the large base of the Crone and 360 degree view mean it isn't quite as limiting as I initially thought. It's a nasty weapon for when you need an infantry unit dead and your Tyrannofexes and Harpies can't handle the job. From there, the Crone has four Tentaclids, the first missile-type weapons available to Tyranids. These have pretty lacklustre profiles with Strength 5 and AP5, but their special rules are what makes them so valuable; each is a Haywire shot that also re-rolls to hit against Zooming Flyers and Swooping Flying Monstrous Creatures. Haywire means that the Strength 5 shot can maybe inflict a glancing hit on an AV11 or AV10 vehicle and then have a huge chance to swipe off another hull point, or just strip hull points off of any vehicle you see. Haywire doesn't effect monstrous creatures though, so I would keep the Tentaclids reserved for flyers in particular. Heavy vehicles like Land Raiders really hate Haywire, even if a Crone is only likely to strip two hull points off on average with its four missiles. For an army that really struggles to deal with heavily armoured vehicles except in combat, a few salvos with Tentaclids from multiple Hive Crones can prove an invaluable defensive tool against these armoured behemoths.
So already we have a monster that can deal with enemy flyers, ground vehicles and infantry pretty well, though it isn't as good at the first two as a Flying Hive Tyrant armed with twin-linked Brain Leech Devourers, not is as good a squad-killer as a Harpy. But that the Crone combines these roles into one cheap model is what makes it stand out, and that is before mentioning its devastating Raking Strike. This special rule grants the Hive Crone a Vector Strike with a whopping Strength 8, capable of inflicting instant death with no cover saves allowed at AP3 on Toughness 4 multiple-wound models, or of just destroy Vindicators and Predators with their weak side armour eleven. The big question is, then, how does it rate against the Heldrake's amazing Meteoric Descent? The most important factor here is range; the Heldrake can move 36" and then fire a torrent template weapon in any direction, giving it unprecedented mobility and the ability to be placed almost anywhere and still do damage. The Hive Crone, instead, can movw 24" and then fire a template weapon lacking the crucial torrent rule, meaning that while it also has a 360 degree line of sight it has significantly less range of damage. This means it is less likely to be able to fly over a unit and then shoot a weapon effectively if they are spaced well. That its template weapon lacks torrent means it has no way to make up for being limited by smart positioning on your opponents part, meaning you can't get away with a Vector Strike and then a template shot covering a good number of models. Where a Heldrake has always been able to Vector Strike a worthwhile target on the turn it arrives for me, the Crone is unlikely to do this until at least the second turn except if its controlling player goes second against an assault or heavily aggressive army. This means that it is a lot more limiting than Meteoric Descent, but really, that isn't so much of a bad thing. A 24" move is still great and not to be under-estimated, but the base size of the Harpy can be an issue here. In any case, when the Vector Strike is used, it is undeniably strong; ripping 3+ armoured monsters and medium to light vehicles apart with ease. Combine that with potent anti-air missiles and a nice little cover-ignoring weapon and you have yourself a cheap and effective unit that rightly takes its place as the most versatile monster in the Tyranid army.
How to Equip Them
In my Harpy Tactica, I pointed out why you should probably leave all the upgrades - except the Heavy Venom Cannon - alone; a Harpy does not need them as it doesn't really want to be in combat, nor will it really get much benefit out of an extra ranged weapon due to its already stacked shooting attacks. Unfortunately - or fortunately if you are into keeping things cheap - the Hive Crone is in a similar boat except only exacerbated by its four Tentaclid Missiles. Replace the Spore Mine Cysts with the Strength 8 Vector Strike and the Stranglethorn Cannon with the Drool Cannon, then add four Haywire anti-air missiles and you kind of get the drift of why you shouldn't add another shooting attack. While a Harpy does have a long-ranged weapon, the Crone has to rely on its missiles as it closes before it can really do some harm with that Vector Strike and template weapon; their 36" range allows the Crone to fire off up to two full salvos in your backfield if you want to play safe early on. Even then, I'm still not really a fan of either gun as the Vector Strike more than covers for any shooting they provide, while a Drool Cannon - when it is in range of something - is far more devastating than either Cluster Spines or a Stinger Salvo. And again, those combat upgrades aren't necessary on something that does most of its damage in the air and won't win combats except against weak units in melee anyway. Keep the Crone bare and keep the points low so that you can take more bodies in your list.
Where to Put Them
As with the Harpy, a Hive Crone can either begin the game in or behind terrain, or start off the board in reserves. You can't ever leave it out in the open due to its middling defensive stats unless it is swooping - and even then, as it suffers no negative penalties for being in cover, it may as well always be in terrain anyway - in which case you should still avoid getting too closed to massed small arms fire. If you only have one to three fliers, try to be more cautious with them; consider not going for the easy Crisis Team kill and instead for that more isolated Pathfinder team if it means another probable turn of your Crone surviving. Even an army lacking in Skyfire likely won't have too much trouble grounding a Crone if they have lots of infantry with bolters or equivalent weapons, and once grounded, a Crone is literally a sitting duck. Using the rule that wings do not count towards line of sight for a flying monstrous creature, deploy the Crone either sideways or straight behind a building or suitable piece of terrain depending on its proportions. Minimize first turn firepower to it as much as possible by deploying safely and giving it a cover save at least; why try and deploy aggressively when there is both no guarantee of going first and going second is so much better for late-game objective capturing! A Crone's best weapon may be its Vector Strike, but it has many other weapons and capabilities to employ before it gets close; unless you are playing with five or more flying monstrous creatures, I advocate against being really aggressive. You want your ground forces to maintain a close distance to a Crone, if only so that they can assist a Crone when it is inevitably grounded or charged. Alternatively, you can hold the Crone in reserves and Deep Strike it - flying monstrous creatures are swooping when they arrive from deep strike - or come in from your table edge to try and catch out faster moving enemies. Either way is a viable tactic, but I prefer to keep it on the board for that ever crucial target saturation, personally.
Again, the Crone is well suited to a support role and for clearing out your enemies' smaller infantry units in combat. A Crone, with Smash, can destroy light to medium vehicles - though walkers with power fists should be avoided - and take on five strong or less infantry units equivalent to Tactical Marines, though it can take on larger units of Fire Warriors or Eldar Guardians pretty effectively. Use its Vector Strike against AV12 side armour or lower vehicles and Toughness 4 multiple wound models - like Crisis Teams and medium-sized Tyranids - and the Drool Cannon to mop up squads of 4+ armoured infantry. The Tentaclids should be reserved for heavy vehicles with side armour thirteen or higher where your Vector Strike becomes inefficient, or for flyers that can also be dealt with through the Vector Strike. All of this makes the Crone an unparalleled monster in terms of versatility in the Tyranid codex, and it is darn cheap to boot. Ideally, a standard Tyranid list with Exocrines, Tyrannofexes, other Harpies and Crones and so on is suited for massacring light to medium infantry in droves, which means your Crones are better left for vehicle hunting, something the rest of the army struggles with at long range. Use the Tentaclids as one of the Hive Fleets' best defences against flyers and AV14 vehicles, but always try and Vector Strike wherever possible without dangerously exposing the Crone itself. I prefer not to take too many risks with these things and move up into advanced cover in the first turn, preparing for a "fly-by" on the second turn and onwards. Many opponents will expect you to try and Vector Strike on turn one and attempt to counter that with their own flyers and unit positioning, so don't fall for the bait and instead disillusion them by doing it in the turn you prefer. The Crone may lack the support capabilities of a Harpy when making a charge, but it nonetheless makes up for it in offensive prowess; if you do have four or more flying monstrous creatures, don't be afraid of aggression. I still recommend using the first turn to get into position so as to not over-extend and end up in the sights of all the enemies' guns, but if it means sacrificing a cheap monster so the rest of your swarm can advance unharmed, it may be worth it.
These are a few example
builds for the unit that I feel can fit into a number of competitive
Tyranid lists. I'll list some thoughts on each build and what kind of
lists they fit better in.
Hive Crone - I really think a Hive Crone doesn't need or want any upgrades, simply because none of them will actually help it with any issues or roles it has. It is already an incredibly versatile monster that doesn't want to be in combat except against weak units or vehicles, an area where those Biomorphs really aren't necessary. The extra ranged weapons aren't really worthwhile once you consider the Crone's five weapons as well as the Vector Strike.
Death from Above
In the cold emptiness of the void, the countless bio-ships of a Hive Fleet slowly traverse the galactic plane in search of new worlds to feast upon. It is in this period of transition where much of a Swarm is yet unborn or in stasis that the Hive Crones, great winged scions of the Hive, glide effortlessly through the darkness as sentient guardians of the Hive Fleet. Controlled by the indomitable will of the Hive Mind, these monstrous predators can tear all manner of enemy vessels apart through strength or numbers alike. But it is when the Hive Crones descend like a meteorite from the heavens alongside numberless Mycetic Spores that the true danger they pose becomes exposed. Created to dominate the skies, Hive Crones are singular in their purpose and as efficient as any other creation of the Hive Mind. The utter destruction of all aerial threats will only see a temporary lapse in the death toll as a Crone then rakes at the ground, causing havoc and terror in equal proportions.
Thank you for reading this article! Please, share your
thoughts on the article and the changes I am experimenting with for this
series. I am open to any and all feedback! And remember, for any and
all discussion on Tyranids and Games Workshop stuff, head on over to +Bell of Lost Souls. Thanks again! Eel out.