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Carnifex Tactica

Submitted By: Date: February 18, 2007, 12:00:00 AM Views: 4695
Summary: Ah, the carnifex. The WMD of Tyranids. Be it shooty, slashy, or a mix, ‘nid players love them, and other players hate them. If you’re new to 40k, you may not have had the joy/horror of playing against one, so let’s see what they have to offer.

For starters, they have T6.  That means nothing can insta-kill them, and most basic weaponry wounds on a 6.  Add to that a high number of wounds and a 3+ save, and you have one hard-to-kill critter.

Secondly, they have very high strength.  With a sniperfex (explained later) you put out a Str 8 blast and 2 Str 10 shots each turn, and that high Str in CC means they will wound almost anything on a 2+ (C’tan are the only thing I can think of that they don’t).

They have great tank-busting potential, on top of all that.  A sniperfex can kill most light to medium vehicles, and in CC it is a Monstrous Creature, so you get two dice for armor penetration.

And, last but not least, they are rarely in the front line.  It may not sound too scary, but when you consider a 160-point model can have 5 wounds and sit in some 4+ cover for the entire game, it can be hard to shift.

Most ‘nid players agree that a carnifex is a good use of a FOC slot, but the biggest debate is what to use it as.  Scary slashy bug, make it put out a lot of shots, make it snipe, there are more choices for a Carnifex than literally any other unit in the game.  But, while there are thousands of possible combos, not all of them are good.  I’ll give the advantages and disadvantages of each the weapon choices, and then list a few of the most common builds.</p>

<p class="heading">Bio-Weapons:</p>
<p class="subheader">Barbed Strangler:</p>
<p class="body">A great weapon choice.  A high S pinning large blast each turn, which is able to penetrate vehicles.  Good against troops, and adds to the tank busting of a Sniperfex.  Also, the only carnifex weapon to go up in price with toxin sacs, though it has no advantage to a higher base Str.</p>

<p class="subheader">Crushing Claws:</p>
<p class="body">A heavily debated choice.  On one hand, it does allow you to get quite a few hits in with a melee carnifex, but on the other hand it can give you less hits, and also pushes any carnifex with it into the Heavy Support slot.</p>

<p class="subheader">Lash Whip:</p>
<p class="body">No.  More points than Scything Talons and a weapon slot to slightly lower enemy multi-attack model’s effectiveness?  Don’t take this ever; it’s possibly the worst weapon choice.</p>

<p class="subheader">Rending Claws:</p>
<p class="body">I stand corrected.  THIS is the worse weapon choice.  However, that being said, you can combine it with Crushing Claws and still be low enough points to go into an Elite slot.  Aside from that, never take this.  Ever.</p>

<p class="subheader">Scything Talons:</p>
<p class="body">The generic melee upgrade for tyranids.  Good, solid choice for a slashy-fex, and the fact that you can have 2 sets of them makes it better.</p>

<p class="subheader">Twin-Linked Deathspitter:</p>
<p class="body">Actually a decent choice.  A high S blast with a reroll to hit isn’t bad, however they are over-shadowed by the Barbed Strangler and Twin-Linked Devourers, making them rarely used.  Give these a pass in favor of the aforementioned weapons.</p>

<p class="subheader">Twin Linked Devourers:</p>
<p class="body">The core of a Dakkafex.  .  Puts out tons of twin linked, high S shots with living ammunition, and you can have 2 sets of them.  Cheap, effective, the only real downside is they can’t do jack to vehicles, and have short range.</p>

<p class="subheader">Venom Cannon:</p>
<p class="body">At first glance, this seems like a great Anti-Tank weapon.  And it is, somewhat, but there is a catch: It cannot penetrate normal vehicles.  It’s still great for rocking those suckers, and when combined with a Barbed Strangler will take out vehicles surprisingly fast, but in no way a replacement for a zoanthrope’s warp blast.  Still a great weapon choice, when combined with Barbed Strangler, and a main part of the Sniperfex.</p>

<p class="heading">Common Carnifex Builds:</p>

<p class="subheader">Sniperfex: +BS, +W or +Save, Venom Cannon, Barbed Strangler</p>
<p class="body">The most commonly used carnifex, and for good reason.  This bug is a powerhouse!  Putting out a Barbed Strangler and two Venom Cannon shots each turn, at 36”, you don’t want to be on the bad side of this bug.  His only real downside is that he still only has 3 shots with a BS of 3, so he won’t be hitting everything, but for ~160 points, this is points well spent.</p>

<p class="subheader">Dakkafex: +BS, 2x Twin-Linked Devourers</p>
<p class="body">The most-common elite-slot carnifex, this bug is all about putting out as many high-Str shots as possible.  Sends out tons of twin-linked Str 6 shots that reroll to wound every turn, all for less than 115 points.  His downside is that since he has to get close (only 18” range), he will take some heavy firepower, and you could very well lose him.  A very solid choice for an elite carnifex, but not worth putting in a Heavy Support slot.</p>

<p class="subheader">Dakka-Sniper: +BS, TL Devourers, Venom Cannon or Barbed Strangler</p>
<p class="body">A mediocre choice.  It loses the ability to be effective while sitting back and sniping, but it less effective, and more expensive, than a dakkafex when you get close.  Some people swear by these things, but when you look at it, this guy is simply less effective for the points than either a Dakkafex or a Sniperfex.</p>

<p class="subheader">Screamer-Killer: +I, 2xScything Talons</p>
<p class="body">Now we get into melee carnifexes.  This guy is not as common as the Dakkafex, but is still a decent elite choice.  He can dish out the hurt, and with +I will strike before power-fists, but his downside is he is slow.  With luck, you’ll get into CC on turn 3, but more than likely it will be turn 4 or 5, and sometimes he will never get there at all.  Probably the best choice if you simply must have a CC carnifex, and decent at killing tanks, but not as good a choice as the ranged carnifexes.</p>

<p class="subheader">Claw-Basher: +I, Scything Talons, Crushing Claws</p>
<p class="body">This carnifex pays a little extra for the chance at 7 attacks in a turn.  A little better than the Screamer-Killer, but at the cost of ~15 more points, and you are forced to use a Heavy Support slot.  Not a great choice, but if you have that extra slot open, and want a melee-carnifex, this is usable.</p>

<p class="subheader">Dakka-Slasher: +BS, +I, TL Devourers or Barbed Strangler or Venom Cannon, Scything Talons</p>
<p class="body">A bad idea.  Mixing roles is rarely a good idea with Tyranids, and this is no exception.  For ~120 points, you get a big bug that is less effective at combat than the Screamer Killer, and less effective at range than the Dakka-fex, and takes up a Heavy Support slot.  I highly suggest leaving this at home.</p>

<p class="subheader">Death Beetle: 1 carnifex with everything on it, and mixed weaponry.</p>
<p class="body">Possibly the worst choice you can make with a carnifex, and one only too common, due partially to GW’s silly Carnifex article, and partially because everyone wants a godly bug.  Resist the urge to pimp out your carnifex, this is 300 points of buggy death, but it still dies about as easily as a 160 point one, and isn’t much more effective.  Leave this one at home, or be the laughing stock of tyranid players everywhere.

As you see, the Dakkafex or Sniperfex is generally the best choice.  And at the 1500 or 2000 point levels, you can easily fit in 1 of each, which is a winning combo.  Other builds can be effective, but for their points they are less reliable.

Now, if you’ve read through your tyranid codex, you will see that the Carnifex has a million and one biomorphs.  Many of them seem like they can be helpful, and most of them can be, but they need to be used sparingly.</p>


<p class="heading">Biomorphs:</p>

<p class="subheader">Acid Maw:</p>
<p class="body">Worthless.  Used on the first round of combat, on a creature that will usually wound with all his hits anyways.  Save the points and buy another termagant.</p>

<p class="subheader">Adrenal Glands (+I):</p>
<p class="body">These are almost mandatory for a close combat carnifex.  If you can get that hit in before that powerfist, it can very-often save your bug a painful death.  As you would think, useless on a ranged carnifex.</p>

<p class="subheader">Adrenal Glands (+WS):</p>
<p class="body">Not great.  You hit MEQs on a 4+ already, and the only thing this will help with is against WS3 and WS7, neither of which you should be charging with a carnifex.  Save the points and go elsewhere, unless you are combining it with Toxic Miasma, in which case it is a decent choice.</p>

<p class="subheader">Bio-Plasma:</p>
<p class="body">A very mixed bag.  On one hand, you can use it with +I and hit at MEQ I and S 10; on the other hand, it’s expensive for just 1 attack a turn.  All right for Heavy Support melee Carnifexes, but will push an elite one over the points limit.  If you’re interested in this one, proxy it and see how you like it before you choose for sure.</p>

<p class="subheader">Bonded Exoskeleton:</p>
<p class="body">This biomorph would be pretty good if there was more Str 3 weaponry.  How it is now, it helps against plasma, and anything Str 8-str5, but for the price, generally isn’t worth it.  There are much better survivability upgrades out there for a carnifex.</p>

<p class="subheader">Enhanced Senses:</p>
<p class="body">If you’re using a shooty carnifex, you damn well better have this biomorph.  It turns your ork-BS into a 4+ to hit, which is definitely worth the low point cost.  Buy this every single time for any carnifex with guns.</p>

<p class="subheader">Extended Carapace:</p>
<p class="body">Turns that MEQ save into a 2+, which is very valuable.  Worth the price, but a 2+ save can still be stripped, making Reinforced Chitin generally a better option.  However, both a good choices, so you can use this if you like the extra save vs. little things.</p>

<p class="subheader">Flesh Hooks:</p>
<p class="body">Some people love Flesh Hooks, but I find them to be useless.  He shouldn’t be moving through impassible terrain, and if you’re charging into cover, you’re not using him right.  However, that being said, it is a very cheap upgrade, and if you know you’ll be on a board full of terrain, it’s worth the 1 point.</p>

<p class="subheader">Implant Attack:</p>
<p class="body">No.  Just… No.  Carnifex is best used against things with high saves (a tactical squad), or medium T Indy Character, which he will insta-kill anyways.  This is a waste of points 99% of the time.</p>

<p class="subheader">Mace Tail:</p>
<p class="body">Ah, the mace-tail.  A very strange and unique upgrade, but in the end, not that great.  It’s an extra attack against a large number of enemies, but you really won’t get the attack all that often, and the extra attack is rarely worth the points cost.  Scythe-tail is generally better, anyways.</p>

<p class="subheader">Scythe Tail:</p>
<p class="body">Very similar to Mace Tail, except instead of one, you get multiples at lower S.  A little better than Mace Tail, but still not great.  I’d leave this one at home, unless you like rolling lots of dice with a Claw-Basher.</p>

<p class="subheader">Regenerate:</p>
<p class="body">Not a very good biomorph, for one reason: It’s unreliable.  You may heal 4 wounds in one game, then none in the next, and it costs the same either way.  If you really want that extra chance, take it, but it is not a good choice for the points.</p>

<p class="subheader">Reinforced Chitin:</p>
<p class="body">Probably the best survivability upgrade for the carnifex.  It gives you an extra wound, which unlike the extra T or the 2+ save, cannot be ignored or taken away.  Add on top of that the fact that this is the cheapest of the three, and that’s just gravy!</p>

<p class="subheader">Spine Banks:</p>
<p class="body">This is another interesting biomorph.  It allows you to get off some shots off without using one of your two weapons per turn, but at very short range.  Quite good on a Dakkafex or Screamer-Killer, since they will both get in range, and will actually shoot the thing, but even the cheap cost bumps them into heavy support slots.</p>

<p class="subheader">Spore Cysts:</p>
<p class="body">The second back-biomorph, Spore Cysts are generally not as good as spine banks.  You still need to be close to have any chance of the mines killing any enemy, and the chance to hurt yourself makes it generally not worth the points.  If you get lucky, and can pop them out near enemy lines, can be devastating, but too unreliable to be a “must have.”</p>

<p class="subheader">Symbiote Rippers:</p>
<p class="body">HAHAHA! No. You want me to do WHAT with my precious ripper models?  A few points and a ripper model to give me +1 in outnumbering?  Hell no!</p>

<p class="subheader">Thorn Back:</p>
<p class="body">The final Back-Biomorph, and probably the worst (as well as the most expensive).  It’s all right for a Heavy Support CC carnifex, but seeing how rare they are, and the fact that this won’t help you until you’re in CC, definitely not worth the points.</p>

<p class="subheader">Toxin Sacs:</p>
<p class="body">Completely useless on any type of shooty carnifex.  You already max out the S of your weaponry, no matter what you use, so +1 S doesn’t do jack.  On a CC carnifex, it’s still not great, because while you get the chance to insta-kill that Daemon Prince, it will push a Screamer-Killer over 115 points.</p>

<p class="subheader">Toxic Miasma:</p>
<p class="body">Useless alone, but when combined with +WS Adrenal Gland, can be somewhat useful.  On a Heavy Support melee-fex, that combo makes you hit on a 3+ against MEQ, for a decent cost.  Not something you simply must have, but the combo makes it usable.</p>

<p class="subheader">Tusked:</p>
<p class="body">A couple termagants given up for an extra attack once or twice a game?  Snore.  Boring, generic, and not that good.  Give this one a pass.</p>

Rating: ***** by 1 members.


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