Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Flying Monstrous Creatures in 7th edition

 I have not been a big fan of these beauties, even with the nice options now available to Tyranids in the new ‘dex.  You would not know this to look at my army; I have a Flyrant and two Hive Crones (which I sometimes proxy as Harpies)...

  Not that I have used them much…I think I have taken, at most, one of them in any game…and then only in a few of my last 10 games or so.  All this to provide context.  I would like to comment on changes to FMCs in general, and Tyranid FMCs in particular in this installment.

Let’s start with the easy one; vector strike.  The main difference from 6th is that against ground targets, the Vector Strike only gives a single attack instead of D3.  However, against flying targets, it still gives D3 attacks.  Also, the Vector Strikes are still at AP2.  An FMC can still fire a weapon in addition to the Vector Strike. 

I think for the Crone, which is the main Tyranid unit affected by 7th, it is a wash.  You do lose 2 potential AP2 attacks at S8.  However, with changes in the vehicle damage table, it would have been more difficult to take out vehicles even if it could still get 3 attacks.  That said, it does still ignore cover, so any jink saves are nullified.  However, the combination of only one attack and the changes to the damage table pretty much remove the Crone as a tank buster now.  It can serve in a strong role as a flyer hunter, between the Vector Strikes (1-3 attacks at AP2) and firing a Tentaclid.  There is still a decent chance of glancing a flyer to death in a single turn. 

The changes in the FMC rules themselves are more significant.  The first major change is that FMCs cannot charge in a turn where they change flight mode (from Zooming to Gliding), which is declared at the beginning of the movement phase.  They have to stay in Glide mode for a turn and then may charge on the following turn.  This gives opponents a shooting phase without needing Skyfire and Overwatch to shoot, for example, a Flyrant up before it impacts its’ opponent.  Even Winged Daemons may have a tougher time getting into base for that assault.

A major buff (IMO) for FMCs is in regards to the Grounding Test.  Previously, an opponent forced a grounding test each time an unsaved wound was inflicted.  In other words, for each unit that shot and inflicted a wound, the test was made during the shooting phase.  This made it much easier to shoot an FMC up, even when zooming.  An enemy just needed to use a couple of anti-air units to inflict a wounds and ground the creature.  The rest of the army could then shoot without the need to roll 6s to hit.  Now, the grounding test is taken at the end of the shooting phase, no matter how many wounds were inflicted (assuming, of course, that the FMC survives the shooting phase).  So if two Skyfire units each inflicted a wound on a Tyrant, the rest of the army wound still need 6s for that shooting phase.  The test is still a 3+; again, it is only taken once for all unsaved wounds, instead of each time a wound is taken.  I think this change significantly improves FMC survivability against armies that stock up on Flyers and anti-air units.  Although investing that many points in units just to shoot down a single FMC doesn’t seem a very wise use of resources…just sayin’.  By the way, FMCs still get a 4+ Jink save if they wish to take it, although we are all aware that jinking now means only snap firing during the shooting phase.

I don’t think I am going to suddenly stock up on FMCs now, but I will give them a bit more consideration when putting together a list.  They are still expensive toys.

Create, grow, feed, adapt


  1. Just to correct a few things in your post. First up, Vector Strike used to be AP3, not AP2 as you state. Thus, although they have removed the D3 hits against ground targets, by improving the AP value to AP2, it still has the ability to explode vehicles on a successful penetration roll. If it remained at AP3, it could only glance. Also, now it is AP2, you could potentially kill 3 terminator equivalents in one swoop, now it is only potentially 1.

    Secondly, the previous edition the grounding test was taken after a successful roll To Hit, not against unsaved wounds. As you say though this was taken after every unit firing had hit, not at the end of the phase. So your original assessment of the 7th edition grounding test is a big buff is correct, but it is vastly understated. Playing the odds, without skyfire 1 in every 6 shots would hit a Swooping FMC, forcing a grounding test. Even weapons that did not wound such as Tau markerlights could force a grounding test. For armies with large volumes of fire, this meant that you FMC could be brought down far easier than now. Doing the Maths, before a bolter equivalent weapon equipped unit without skyfire had a 1 in 18 chance of grounding a T6 Sv3+ creature, and remember that is per unit firing, and it only need 1 weapon to hit to force the test (i.e. it is a 1 in 6 chance of forcing the test). Now, the odds of forcing the test are 1 in 108 since you have to hit, wound and get past the armour save. AND you only take one test at the end of the phase. So S4 AP5 weapons, the odds go from 1 in 6 to 1 in 108 which is a factor of 18 improvement. That is one hell of a buff to most FMCs and grounding.

    Personally, I see a use for Nid FMCs, particularly the Harpy, which can overfly units and drop the spore mines, and shoot at tanks with heavy venom cannons, or infantry with Strangletorn, while having added protection against ground units without skyfire. It seems to me to be a solid anti-infantry unit, with upgrade to taking out armoured vehicles.

    The crone on the other hand has had its talons clipped, unless going up against fliers. Still a S8 AP2 auto hit weapon is not something to sneeze at. A marine commander wouldnt want to be caught on his own in the open with that. Its best use would be against multi-wound T4 models in my opinion.

  2. Thanks Jonny, for those correction, as well as the mathhammer. At least we agree that the rule changes have benefited FMC overall, the Flyrant in particular. Also, that the Crone now has a more limited role.

  3. I should correct that when I said Vector strike at AP3 could only glance, I meant of course that it could not explode the vehicle under the new vehicle damage chart. I knew what i was thinking, but just failed to translate that properly.

    I am a Nid player, and never really used flyers myself until I got flying Tyrant at the beginning of this year, so it is a disappointing that the change to the rules means that Swooping FMCs cannot assault on the turn they change flight mode. But then again, all other FMCs are in the same boat, so we cant complain too loudly about it. I also understand why they did it, to give the opponent an opportunity to kill the thing before it caused havoc to their army. You could start the FMC in glide mode at set up, move to swooping in turn 1, then in turn 2 move to glide, and then assault. This meant that the FMC had a maximum threat range of 24 + 2d6 (run) + 12 + 2d6 (charge), for an average of a 50 inch threat range for close assault in turn 2.

    However, I would argue that this rule change can actually be beneficial to the survivability of a FMC such as a Flying Tyrant, or Greater Daemon. Psychologically, an opponent may think twice about targeting a Swooping FMC if it is within assault range of one of their units, for fear of grounding it, since as the rules state, if you ground a FMC in your turn, then it will count as being in glide mode at the start of its turn, and so there is no flight mode change, and hence it can assault. While being grounded can ruin the overall plan of a FMC player, if you find yourself grounded near an opportunistic target, all the better. You might have been aiming for the unit of terminators, but being grounded near to the tactical squad holding the objective, or being grounded behind that devastator squad behind aegis defense line could be a nasty surprise for your opponent.


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