This article is part of a series explaining how to create an Exodite Army using the 7th edition codices and the new Ally rules.
In this article, I will review each unit that has the Instinctive Behavior Special Rule within the codex that can represent an Exodite equivalent. Since I have already covered many of the special rules and weapons in Part 1, I will cover the unit’s Exodite interpretation sometimes modeling suggestions. As with each of these codex specific articles, I will be treating each codex independently so there may be modeling suggestions that are common to multiple codices for completely different units.
Since most players favor a single army and don’t knit together several codices as I have done, it will be up to the individual modeler to determine how best, within his own army, he can use the same base model for different units from more than one codex. In reality, the possibilities are almost unlimited, especially with the variety of old and new models for most of the Games Workshop units available now, so it would be beyond the scope of these articles.
The units will be presented in the order they appear in the codex and if I have not written an Exodite equivalent unit for that entry, I will try to explain the challenge I faced. Maybe the reader can see something I missed and add even more Exodite flavor to the codex. If the unit is one I use as-is, then it will be listed at the end of the unit list with some general comments as needed for that unit.
One final note, as I explain the backstory of the unit, you will see a mix of traditional Exodite fluff coupled with my own interpretation to match the story of my own Maiden World. My intent is not to rewrite the fluff but to simply write my own story for a single Maiden World located on the Eastern Fringe in Tau space. It should serve as a starting point for the reader to launch out on his own interpretation or craft it to be more in line with the traditional Exodite fluff.
Biodiversity in the 42nd Millennium
The Tyranid codex has a vast array of units that can represent the various dinosaurs and other local fauna. When you factor in the many options most of these units have as well, the sheer variety becomes mind boggling. My approach was to build out the various units with different combinations of options and see if I could come up with a reasonable dinosaur that the unit could represent. When I could not match it to a dinosaur, even with a weapons crew, I attempted to create some other creature that build could represent.
In the end, I was quite satisfied with the variety I had but I could not match many of the options for some of the units. In fact, I am sure there are many more possibilities out there but I can build my Exodite army with the unit builds I have completed so far.
Fortunately for the modeler, there are many dinosaur miniature makers. Reaper, Khurasan, Magister Militum and Citadel are among the many that I have found so the modeler has many options. I will not typically suggest models for each unit unless doing so will help illustrate a particular possibility to the reader. In general, I will leave it up to the reader to find what he feels is the best match in looks and size for the model he is trying to create.
As for the larger creatures, several model manufacturers such as Lindberg, Aurora and Tamiya all provide opportunities for many of the larger units though Tamiya also makes velociraptors which work well on a 40mm base for any raptor based unit.
The most basic Tyranid troop is a Gant, be it Termagant or Hermagant. Since the units can be as large as 30 models, these creatures must be pack hunters. The Hermagants were easy as they easily matched any of the dromaeosaurs like the velociraptor; the real one, not the giant movie version. Borrowing from Jurassic Park’s dilophosaurus, I settled on the Termagants being a type of spitting dinosaur.
The model I chose to represent these are the Dromaeosaurs by Khurasan Miniatures. Sold in 6 packs, they are scaled well for 28mm and cost roughly $1 a piece. There are other small models like this available elsewhere so there are some options out there. By creating three different paint jobs, you can distinguish between the two different Termagant builds and the Hermagants. If you have money to burn and love painting hundreds of these little dinosaurs, you could make different paint schemes to match the different combinations of upgrades.
The following are the Exodite unit names and the war gear load they represent.
Dromaeosaurs represent basic Hermagants. Adding Adrenal Glands makes them Deinonychus. Adding only Toxin Sacs makes them Venom Raptors and adding both adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs makes them Megalornithosaurus.
The basic Termagant is called a Deathspitter on Lorien as it spits venom. I have not named the version that has the Devourer upgrade, or any of the others since I only use these as part of the Tervigon (Warp Lord) unit.
Tyrant Guard – Dragon Guard
Great Drakes, Wyrms and occasionally Wyverns, will summon a few of more dangerous dragons to serve as a sort of bodyguard. Some Dragonmaster Lords are also known to do this. The benefit is obvious in that the guard will sacrifice their lives for their leader.
The basic stat line can represent any raptor like dinosaur. Adding the Crushing Claws upgrade and you have a small Triceratops. The Khurason Triceratops model fits perfectly on a 40mm base.
Though I have not settled on it as a good interpretation, the Bonesword & Lashwhip can turn the model into a raptor-riding Exodite with a dragon lance. The problem is that this would be like a dragon knight but unable to control the beast he is riding. That doesn’t mesh yet so I only have two versions of Dragon Guard right now.
Ripper Swarm – Small Pack Hunters
There are many species of small, chicken-sized raptors that hunted in packs. Think of the compy packs in Jurassic Park 2 and you get the idea. These are great ripper swarms. I made a version for each combination of options and use Magister Militum models for the units. Sometimes the unit name matches the model I use for it.
Coelophysis packs are the basic unit with no upgrades. Velociraptor packs represent those with Adrenal Glands. Sinornithosaurus represent those with Toxin Sacs and Troodon Packs represent units with both upgrades.
Venomthrope – Windstalker
The Windstalker is a strange creature. It is not like the dinosaurs that inhabit Lorien. Instead, it appears as a reptilian creature whose primary defense is near-invisibility. It has some sort of telepathic ability to affect the viewers’ minds so they do not see it, though they may still be aware of its presence as the hairs on the back of your head stand up. (Compliments to Dr. Who for the inspiration!) In fact, its ability is so strong, it can actually affect the viewer’s ability to see other Dragonomaster units nearby.
If the creature is found and attacked by a predator, it has poisonous defenses including a lightning fast clawed strike and a gaseous cloud that can incapacitate or kill an enemy.
Pyrovore – Firemouth/Salamander (Dimetrodon)
The most deadly variety of sailback is the Firemouth whose ability to breath gouts of flame and aggressive temperament match their typical fiery-red coloration. Where most Sailbacks are content to hunt quietly in the jungles, becoming aggressive only when threatened, the Firemouths are known to aggressively attack anything they perceive to be a threat or competition. The Imperium has given firemouths the name, ‘salamanders’.
Haruspex – Giant Sailback (Dimetrodon)
Sailbacks are another of the exotic species of large reptiles that are common to many Exodite worlds. They are characterized by the tall, sail-like crest that stands out along their backs. Possessed of the same naturally tough hides as many of the other beasts found on these worlds, the Sailbacks are made even more dangerous by their ability to produce corrosive poisons which they can spit at distant targets.
Ravener – Theropods (Mid-sized carnosaurs) and Utahraptors
Theropods are a very diverse group of large carnivorous dragons inhabiting the jungles of Lorien. They all attack prey with their bite and hind claws. The utahraptor is the largest of the dromaeosaurs and an efficient pack hunter. Their defining characteristic is their large rending talon on each of their hind feet. Their preferred method of attack is to hide and ambush their prey when they approach. However, they are perfectly comfortable running their prey down as they flee in terror from the determined pack of predators.
The Ravener unit can represent any of these carnivorous hunters. The “deep Strike” capability is not really them burrowing up from the ground but instead, represents their ability to lie in ambush just before striking.
Skyslasher Swarm – Quetzalcoatls
The Quetzalcoatl is a moderate sized pterosaur with vicious claws and teeth. Though lightly built, their thin frame is very robust. The largest portions of their body are simply their wing membranes so most hits really do very little damage. However, explosive or flame weapons are terribly destructive and will easily render the wings useless, leaving the pterosaur almost completely immobile.
My chosen approach to modeling this unit is the Magister Militum models. They have a walking version and a flying version so I use the flying version for the units that have Adrenal glands.
Gargoyle – Hatzegopteryx
Pterosaurs are very common on Lorien and come in many varieties. Some are large enough to carry an Exodite warrior and these are used as mounts by some of the House Clans. They make their homes in jungles and mountains near the coast as most eat fish. The Hatzegopteryx is too small to carry a rider but each is a dangerous predator. They are capable of spitting an acidic venom at short ranges to cripple their prey. If attacked, it can direct its spit at the attacker’s eyes potentially blinding and allowing escape.
Here again, I model these with Magister Militum’s miniatures. These also come in a walking and flying pose so the Adrenal Glands can be ‘modeled’.
Hive Crone – Giant Pterosaur
The giant pterosaurs are not as powerful as the Great Drakes and cannot control other dragons though they do have a breath weapon. When used in war, one or two Exodites will ride the pterosaur to control a set of missiles and operate any mounted weapons
Though I have a general concept for this unit, I have not found a suitable model for the Giant Pterosaur. Since I had a second interpretation of this particular unit that I really like, I am not putting any more thought into this version.
Hive Crone – Thunderbird
This is my favorite interpretation of this unit. The thunderbird is a giant eagle-like migratory bird that inhabits Lorien. Soaring on the thermals along storm fronts and along the coasts, the thunderbird searches out its prey. Any large animal that it is able to carry off is vulnerable to this deadly hunter. In spite of its size, it is an extremely agile flyer.
The thunderbird gets its name from its signature attack and the sound it makes as it flies overhead. The source of these abilities are special organs that acts as a powerful tesla coil. The powerful energy generated by these organs infuses the entire creature such that the air around it rumbles like a nearby storm. When needed, the bird is able to direct this energy toward its intended target, prey or enemy.
In combat, the thunderbird is able to generate a powerful storm of chain lightning from its head as its primary weapon. It is also capable of discharging lightning strikes against aerial targets but these attacks are limited in quantity as they are discharged from special organs that store charges specifically for use against aerial opponents. Older thunderbirds are able to direct their electrical energy in additional ways making them an even more effective force in combat.
No thunderbird has ever borne an Exodite rider for they refuse to be tamed. Even the dragonsingers cannot call them to bear riders. However, they do quickly answer the dragonsinger’s and Dragonmaster’s call to arms when in the area.
The weapon options for the Hive Crone are all electrical based on the thunderbird in this interpretation so you can equip it in any way you see fit. As for modeling, I prefer to use a riderless High Elf Phoenix model without the icy or fiery feather effects.
Carnifex – Ceratopsian, Stegosaurs and Ankylosaurus
Ankylosaurs are armoured dragons with heavy, bony plates covering their backs and head. At the end of their tail, they have a mace or club like bony growth that can inflict serious wounds. Though they are normally docile, the Dragonmasters stir up aggression in them when they need to go to war. Unfortunately, since the aggression is not natural, if the ankylosaurs get too far from the dragonmasters, there is a chance that the psychic backlash will cause them to attack each other. Occasionally, other Exodites will ride ankylosaurs into battle manning large weapons in howdah’s carried on the dragon’s back. Giving the Carnifex the Bone Mace tail easily represents the ankylosaurus.
Ceratopsians are a a variety of dragon that have a head frill with horns projecting from their nose, brow and/or frill. These include medium sized pentaceratops, triceratops, styracosaurus, torosaurus, etc… Though they are normally non-combative, they are very territorial and protective and their temper can flare if threatened. The Dragonmasters exploit that trait when they need to go to war. Unfortunately, since the aggression is not entirely natural, if the ceratopsians get too far from the dragonmasters, there is a chance that the psychic backlash will cause them to attack each other. Ceratopsians rarely carry a Howdah with crew. Giving the Carnifex crushing claws, you can make it a ceratopsian with their horns representing the crushing claws.
There are many examples of Stegasaurs of moderate size. Their common characteristic is their spiked tail. Though they are normally non-combative, they are protective and their temper can flare if threatened. The Dragonmasters exploit that trait when they need to go to war. Unfortunately, since the aggression is not entirely natural, if the stegosaurs get too far from the dragonmasters, there is a chance that the psychic backlash will cause them to attack each other. Giving the Carnifex a Thresher scythe tail makes it a Stegosaur.
Tyrannofex – Armoured Megadon
The Armoured Megadon is another example of an extremely large dragon that the Dragonmasters control so that a crew of Exodites may man weapons systems mounted in a howdah. There are many dragons that grow to enormous sizes and though almost all of them are herbivores, they are massive and not easily spooked in combat. Their hide is very think and offers significant protection without the need for additional armour. However, they are often adorned with barding that appears as large blankets. These are actually made of material similar to the craftworld body armour and serves to offer increased protection as these large dragons usually draw a significant volume of fire.
Exocrine – Megadon
The term “megadon” is a broad descriptor applied to a large variety of very large dragon species. Most are herbivores. Under normal conditions, the megadons are herded by the Exodite clans for food, leather and other raw materials. In wartime, they are ideally suited to carry the larger weapon systems into battle and provide a form of artillery for the rest of the Dragonmaster warhost.
Saurapods are a specific type of megadon characterized by the very long neck and tail and large body. They are able to strike at their enemies with their tail as well as their bite. This is the Exocrine with the Thresher Scythe tail bio-morph added.
Like other howdah equipped dragons, the crew are drawn not from the Dragonmasters but from the Exodite clans. The crew on this dinosaur operates the Prism Cannon which is a shorter ranged weapon based on the Fire Prism weapon found in the Craftworlds. It can fire in a beam or dispersed mode.
Trygon – Warprider
Even the Exodites rely on the webway. Webway Portal Generators are sometimes mounted on large dragons and megadons carrying a crew and heavy weapons. These are called Warpriders. Where Warp Lords are Exodite leaders, Warpriders do not control their mount but man the weapons and portal generator.
Mawloc – Warp Dragon
Giant Carnosaurs are among the most ferocious and deadly of the giant dragons on Lorien. Though as large as they are, they are usually not selected by Dragon Lords or Warlords as mounts. They are not psychic and even Dragon lances do not offer much advantage over a Giant Carnosaur’s bite and size. There is not much a rider can do but let the beast do what it does best and simply stay on for the ride.
There are some brave souls that have been able to link with these beasts, though not exert control beyond their mount. They also carry a webway portal generator that allows them to enter and exit from the warp as desired. This ability, coupled with the beast’s ferocity in combat creates a force of devastating power on the battlefield.
The signature ability of the Warp Dragon is the Webway Assault (Terror From the Deep). The Exodite rider is an expert at webway travel and is able to open the portal in the midst of the enemy. The enemy unit suffers from both the sudden rift in reality as well as the ravaging attacks of the dragon as it attempt to enter real space.
Just as it can jump into battle, the Warp Dragon can jump out of battle using a Webway Jump (Burrow). This can keep it safe for a turn and allow it to strike a different unit across the battlefield the next time it comes in.