How about we start with the long awaited answer to the question how the fuck are we supposed to deal with flyers??? Well the answer swoops down in the form of the Hive Crone, a cousin to the harpy adapted for smashing enemy flyers from the air. Literally. The thing has spikes along its belly and totes a S8 vector strike. It also has the ability to drool on its ground enemies, again literally, via its aptly named "Drool Cannon."
I don't rate the Hive Crone. It's quite expensive, really fragile (T5 4+ is awful), and while Str8 Vector Strike is nice, it's not enough to deal with the really relevant aircraft (Vendetta and Heldrake - hurts Night Scythes, but I'd be amazed if you stayed alive past turn 2 against Necrons).
The harpy itself remains unchanged from what it could do previously, with both its main weapons still being blast weapons it still can't hit air targets for squat. I doubt we;ll be seeing much of her in the skies now that her more appealing sister has put in an appearance.
Agreed - none of the problems with it were fixed, so it's still pretty bad.
The exocrine I can definitely see being popular. Why? When was the last time tyranids had a large blast weapon with AP2? Yea... Hey Imperial players, remember all those laughs you had when you were dropping demolisher templates on our swarms? Well it's about to be Fuck you time...
I have an issue with it being only Str7 and only BS3. Demolisher Cannons can insta-kill people and can almost always get Divination for TL BS4 to make it hit things, while Riptides can get BS5 and Ignores Cover as well as insta-killing T4 and being a credible threat to tanks. Exocrines do technically have the rule where they stand still for +1 BS, but at only 24" range, rare is the army that will let you do that. Str7 AP2 is nice, but it's mounted on a pricy chassis (almost 50pts more than a Vindicator), as well as being fairly fragile (T6 and a 3+ is nice, but everyone and their dog is geared up to deal with 5 T8 3+ wounds or 6 T6 2+ wounds with Invulnerables, so T6 3+ 5 wounds is pretty blah as far as statlines go).
The haruspex I am less impressed with, for all its fancy tricks it is still a slow monster that has to plod across the battlefield to really come into its own. Like the harpy, I think it's destined to be outshone by its better in general sibling.
I think it's probably better than the Exocrine as it's a melee beasty in an army of melee beasties and with Carnifexes being relevant again, you can push a lot of monster at people and force them to deal with it, although I agree that being only 6" move and a lack of Fleet really hurts it (does it have Fleet? I can't remember from my brief leaf through the book).
Warlord traits are a nice addition, and all of them are refreshingly useful in most average games. Like the ability to turn any forest you get close to into a death patch, or deconstruct enemy cover saves before the battle starts.
Really? I think this is definitely the weakest trait table so far. Feel No Pain when you've taken a wound is pretty nice seeing as Regen is a pretty solid choice again, and +6" Synapse is never bad, but Night Vision/-1 to Cover are both bad for the same reason (Tyranids have short-range, high-AP torrent fire - Tau would love this trait, but it doesn't synergize with how Tyranids work).
Instinctive behaviour took a small adjustment and... well, don't leave homagaunt or carnifex broods unattended too long, lest they eat each other...
This fun little tweak makes synapse that bit more pivotal without being a complete hindrance, as there is only a small chance that something that drastic will actually occur. Still...
With everyone geared up to kill Monstrous Creatures (and all Imperial armies getting transferable Monster Hunter) now, I think that Instinctive Behaviour will become a lot more important as Synapse creatures will be dropping like flies. It's also far more damaging, which sucks, but it's fairly easy to mitigate by just taking more Synapse creatures (and Warriors got better, if not a whole lot better, so that's not as much of an issue now).
The wargear section was nicely fleshed out and brought up to 6e standard, with every bioweapon being granted its own ap and special rules and whatnot. And on a minor note, spore mine movement is no longer random. You read that correct.
Spore Mines are ok anti-tank now, but I still don't rate them. 3" movement simply isn't enough to get you to where your enemy is, which will be away from the Spores. If they do hit, they're quite nice, dealing a big hit to vehicles or a couple of wounds on an infantry unit, but a lot of units can shrug them off.
We also now have a selection of Hive artefacts, pieces of bio engineered wargear better than the average biomorph selections, such as a nifty set of pincers granting preferred enemy to the first type of creature they kill, or the Ymargl Factor, which allows one of your characters to mutate its body each turn similar to how the afore named genestealers could in the old book. 2+ Save Tyrant one turn, 6A Tyrant the next? Yes please...
Some of them are ok, some of them are atrocious (Norn Crown, cool fluff does not validate you), but I think that they suffer the same problems as almost everyone else's Relics in that all but one or two of them are hugely overpriced or simply not very good.
Psychic powers are now restricted, no longer can we select Biomancy, Telepathy or Telekinesis. I'm okay with this, as the Hive Mind Powers are not exactly as useless as they used to be. Plus the fact that your winged Hive Tyrant could potentially be toting a Warp Blast Warp Lance combo as a result, this gives you a second (and awesome) anti air option if Luck is on your side.
Hive Mind powers are not at all bad, but losing Biomancy is sad. Still, the extra range on Paroxysm is pretty major, and the other powers are all pretty nice (I really rather like The Horror, which is now pretty good).
My own thoughts:
Gargoyles. Gargoyles are really, really good
. If you get into combat with Gargoyles, you're not getting out of combat again, because you're going to take 15 Blind tests on the turn they charge and they will sit there with Fearless and you'll hit on 5s. I expect most lists to be bringing at least 40, if not the full 90.
Mawlocs are very strong
. Two Strength 6 AP2 Large Blasts that focus on the same point is pretty damn powerful, even if you can't do the burrowing trick any more.
Hive Guard are still strong - the nerf to Old Adversary and going down to BS3 hurts them, but Ignores Cover is nice even if it's not that much better than before, and you can usually take out a tank through just glances with the Haywire blasts as well as being a threat to infantry (it's rare you'll completely miss a tank with the Blasts, so I'd probably bring those rather than Impalers).
Best anti-air is still a Hive Tyrant with Brainleech Worms - the Crone is 'meh', but 12 Strength 6 shots into rear armour is very, very nice.
Shadow in the Warp is nice as anti-psyker defence, even if it is short-ranged. Still, more than other armies get, which is a thing.