Today we are going to have a look at one of my favorite
models, the Scythed Hierodule! The Scythed Hierodule is a massive
Tyranid Lord of War option that is similar to an Imperial Knight. I say “similar”
and not “equivalent” because Knights are generally better for their points
cost. Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of the Hierodule prior to Blood of
-12” move and automatic 6” advance
-Lots of high strength attacks
-Great 2d6 auto-hitting ranged weapon at strength 6 ap-2 damage D3
-High Toughness and lots of wounds
-3d6 drop the lowest for charge
-Averages just about 13 wounds against a Knight equivalent in a single round of combat
-Titanic Monster can fall back and still shoot/charge, can shoot while engaged with infantry, can move over infantry
-Not quite durable enough for points cost
-Becomes significantly ineffective as it degrades (except in shooting!)
-No “Stomp” equivalent attack so can be overwhelmed by hordes
Prior to Blood of Baal, the Scythed Hierodule was considered just not quite worth it. In fact, Frontline Gaming’s article on the Scythed Hierodule gave it a score of 65/100, just barely failing. However, Blood of Baal brings it up a notch by giving it options that make this monster very playable! Let’s have a look.
The most obvious buff available to the Scythed Hierodule is Dermic Symbiosis. Not only does it provide a much-needed 5++, but counting as double wounds on the damage tiers means the Hierodule is effective much longer. Bonus, even if you drop a tier, you can usually bring yourself back up a tier with an average dice roll on the codex stratagem Rapid Regeneration since each wound you regenerate effectively counts for double on the damage track! This is key because each tier affects the most important aspects of this monster’s abilities; Movement, WS, and Attacks!
This durability makes the Hierodule a lot harder to weaken. Previously, it would take 10 Space Marine Lascannon shots (with no buffs) to deal 13 damage and drop the Scythed Hierodule to a weaker tier.
With Dermic Symbiosis, however, it would take 13 Lascannon shots to do the same amount of damage (13.481) BUT it would take 17 Lascannon shots to actually drop the Scythed Hierodule to the next damage tier.
That alone isn’t quite enough durability, however, Blood of Baal has given us good reason to also take Maleceptors.
The Blood of Baal stratagem Encephalic Diffusion for Maleceptors reduces the strength of ranged weapons targeting nearby friendly units by 1. Assuming you’re taking a Maleceptor, this means those Lascannons are now effectively strength 8. You would now need 17 Lascannon shots to deal 13.222 damage (instead of 9) and 22 shots to deal 17.111 damage and take the Scythed Hierodule to its second damage tier! But that’s not all!
Catalyst is Still a Thing
We also have access to the codex psychic power Catalyst which grants a friendly Hive Fleet unit the ability to ignore damage on a 5+. Not only does this make the Scythed Hierodule resilient to Mortal Wounds, but it also takes its durability up to a completely new level!
To deal roughly the same 13 wounds (13.481 damage) to this Scythed Hierodule benefitting from Catalyst on top of the other buffs it now requires 26 Lascannon shots! It would take a whopping 33 shots to deal 17.111 damage and knock it down to the next damage track. Also, it would require 43 Lascannon shots to kill this Scythed Hierodule on average rolls! That is absolutely bonkers!
No, it isn’t invincible and, yes, Space Marines will have a lot of buffs available but the fact remains that these abilities drastically improve the Hierodules survivability and functionality to very respectable levels. But durability isn’t everything. There are ways to improve the Scythed Hierodule’s efficiency too!
Onslaught and the Resonance Barb
A Scythed Hierodule can also boost its effective range with the codex psychic power Onslaught. A Scythed Hierodule under the effects of Onslaught can advance and still
fire its Bio-Acid Spray as well as charge afterwards! This increases its threat range on the Bio-Acid Spray from 20” to 26” and (oops! Bio-Acid Spray is a heavy weapon and cannot fire if the Hierodule advances! This was clarified in the Tyranid FAQ. Our bad.) it can now move and advance 18” and still charge 3d6 dropping the lowest die. A Scythed Hierodule stands a good chance of making a turn 1 charge even without the aid of the Swarmlord.
The Resonance Barb is the most powerful new relic Tyranids have access to in Blood of Baal. It allows a psyker to cast an extra power, deny an extra power, and also get +1 to casting powers. When used on a Neurothrope who can re-roll 1’s when casting psychic powers, it makes it almost guaranteed that you will be able to cast the all-important Onslaught. Also, most Tyranid lists already include a Neurothrope and Onslaught so it’s not like you have to change your whole list to make a Scythed Hierodule viable. You are probably already using the tools you would need.
Custom Hive Fleet Adaptations
A Scythed Hierodule can also benefit in various ways under
the Hive Fleet adaptations.
Biosphere Consumption – If you don’t get first turn and are not using Hive Fleet Leviathan, it could be very handy for a Scythed Hierodule to start with a 6+++ save.
Metamorphic Regrowth – Since this monster is likely to stick around for a bit, regaining wounds is a nice thing.
Prey-sight – Increasing the accuracy of those Massive Scything Talons will make this monster more deadly against Imperial Knights and their equivalents.
Hive Fleet Behemoth
Of the named Hive Fleets, I believe Behemoth offers the most to a Scythed Hierodule. Not only does it allow the monster to re-roll failed charges (on 3d6 dropping the lowest) but Behemoth also has access to the Blood of Baal psychic Power Unstoppable Hunger which would allow this beastie to re-roll wounds as well!
The Scythed Hierodule can be a very solid option now. If you are willing to invest in it (and really, what single model would benefit more from Onslaught and Dermic Symbiosis???) then it can become incredibly powerful and reliable. I won’t speak for Frontline Gaming but if I were to rate this unit taking into consideration all the new Blood of Baal benefits, I would give it an 85/100 on FLG’s scale. I think it’s a very solid B unit. Not a must-take A-tier model but absolutely a solid choice.
What do you think about the Scythed Hierodule? Will you be taking one now? Have you tried it out? What Hive Fleet rules or Adaptations work best for you? Let us know in the comments and please follow us on Facebook! As always, thanks for taking the time to read this article!