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