Tyranid Codex Review – Elites: Maleceptor

Hello everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here, and as always, today, I want to talk about Tyranids and their greatness.  Well, maybe not so much this time.  If you want some tips to up your game, don’t forget the Tactics Corner.  You’ll need it to make our biggest brain bug work, The Maleceptor, and if you figure it out, please do let us all know.

***This article has been updated for Chapter Approved 2018***

Equipment and Biomorphs:

  • Massive Scything Talons: S7 AP -3 Dmg 3 melee that reroll 1s to hit.

Special Rules:

  • Shadow in the Warp: -1 to psychic tests within 18″. Does not affect TYRANID units.
  • Synapse: Fearless bubble of 12 inches.
  • Pyschic Barrier: 5+ invulnerable save
  • Psychic Overload: Instead of casting, roll for every unit within 6 (up to a maximum depending on its health). On a 2+, that unit takes 1 mortal wound. On a 6+, it takes 3 mortal wounds.
  • Psyker: Cast and deny 2 powers per turn. +1 to cast.

On the plus side, the Maleceptor has a few unique things going for it.  First, it is the only model in the bug arsenal that has a flat bonus to cast psychic powers.  For a late sequence Smite or a critical Onslaught/Catalyst, that can really help sneak something through.  If you are building around say a Dimachareon/Haruspex missile where Onslaught is essential, then a Maleceptor could help make sure that with a CP reroll and the +1, you are more than likely to get the power cast. It is also one of the only monstrous creatures with a built-in invulnerable save of 5++, giving it a decent amount of protection from the big hitters out there.  It also is one of the few brain bugs capable of denying two powers a turn rather than just one.  These are all interesting little things that again make the Maleceptor quite different than other options. It is somewhat beastly in the stat department with T7 and 12 wounds.  With a 3+ save and a 5++, that’s not all that easy to kill, so they are shockingly resilient for the price point, especially now with their lower cost.  Even in combat, it rerolls 1s to hit and hits at S7 when healthy, which isn’t bad at all although with only 3 attacks, it is more of a surprise bonus than anything to rely upon.  Really, the biggest thing about it is that it only costs 160 points.  Yep, it is cheeeeeap.  You get a lot of statline for that kind of price.  Throw in that this has Shadows and Synapse, and there are definitely things to praise about it.

Hive Fleet also helps here make the Maleceptor just a bit more than what it appears.  Jormungandr really ups its survivability by giving it a 2+ save to shooting which makes anything AP -2 and under far less likely to put on wounds.  Leviathan also increases its survivability with the 6++ Feel No Pain.  Everyone else doesn’t do much. Kraken isn’t bad for the super speed to let the Maleceptor get into position for a good Smite.  Hydra/Gorgon/Behemoth are just not meant for this bug sadly.  I would certainly suggest that increasing its defensive buffs is best for the Maleceptor to really leverage its survivability at range for the price point.

The problem is that the Maleceptor is just a smite battery. It really has no other legitimate threat vectors. A +1 to cast Smite is cool, and you get the bonus super smite on 10 rather 11, but yah, not so much enough to justify the points.  Even loading it for max damage and using Smite plus Psychic Scream is still only 2d3 or maybe d6+d3 mortal wounds is just not a lot compared to what other units can do in terms of raw damage. A Broodlord or naked Hive Tyrant would be better if you just want a smite battery and a Broodlord is far cheaper now than it was.  Hell, both Broodlords and a walking Hive Tyrant fight a lot better, and both are more survivable in their own ways. If you just want a smite, then you can get two Neurothropes for just a little more than a Maleceptor or even 4 Zoanthropes for the same damage potential.  Its signature power, Psychic Overloard, doesn’t do much damage at all.  Doing 1 mortal wound to up to 6 units is pretty meh, and a possible 3 is good, but only 16% of the time, and it would certainly be stronger if it was simply do 6 mortal wounds, distributed as you’d like, to X amount of units within Y or just do a smite aura in general.  The fact that you also have to turn off all your powers for that turn to do this is just silly as I’d almost always want to do 2d3 mortal wounds to one target than 1 mortal wound to 6.  The only time this is really useful is if you cannot get a good angle on a target, and the aura lets you hit other targets, but then again, 1 mortal wound, maaaaybe 3, is just not worth it. The Maleceptor cannot fight well at all with only 3 attacks and WS 4+, and it brings no shooting or any other means of doing damage. Really, it is just a missed opportunity.  Balancing psykers and monsters is tough, but it seems that GW just went a bit too conservative here.

30/100. A pretty solid fail.  The Maleceptor just doesn’t work as intended, and it needs some serious revision to be worth it on the table unless it was suddenly sub-100 points. That wraps up the Elites folks, and next time, we are going to look at the fast stuff.  Thanks as always for reading; The Hive Mind loves you all equally.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!




About Danny Ruiz

Long-long time 40K player, one of the original triumvirate of head 40K judges at LVO, writer, educator, tyranid-enthusiast, disciple of Angron, man about town, afflicted with faction ADD.

16 Responses to “Tyranid Codex Review – Elites: Maleceptor”

  1. Avatar
    Brakhal December 30, 2018 3:50 am #

    The Maleceptor has a 4++, and it costs 150 points.

    While I don’t think the ‘ceptor is a good option, I woud never rate it as worst as a Haruspex. The 4++ is infinitely better than t8, and at least he casts and deny 2 powers. And they’re both as terrible when swinging at cc.

    As the other Tyranid non-shooty/mixed monsters, it lacks some offense. The fluff says it evolved to destroy big targets, but it rules are not designed to kill anything, but to be a expensive HM slave -I mean, onslaught slave-, but you can field a Neurothrope for cheaper, to fulfill that purpouse. You can even field a 2xrending walkrant for a bit less, which is a lot better at close combat, has more sinergies, is faster, and has the same survivability.

    • Avatar
      Sean Morgan December 30, 2018 7:33 am #

      I mean, I’m pretty sure that twelve attacks on 4s is better than three attacks on fours, so I don’t think you can really call it and the Haruspex “equally bad” in melee. But I would definitely agree that the Maleceptor lacks a well-defined role. Two casts at +1 is actually pretty strong for a psyker and the built-in “nova” ability is surprisingly decent, but they really just aren’t enough overall. Tyranids have so many other psykers (and ones that benefit from character protection, in a number of cases) that there just isn’t a lot of call for the Maleceptor.

      But at least it’s better than last edition, when it was 4+/5++ and died to a stiff breeze.

      • Avatar
        Daniel Micallef December 30, 2018 11:59 am #

        The Haruspex is 4x d3 S7 BS4+ attacks, with +1 claw attack if it kills a model, not flat 12. But is certainly more consistant than the Maleceptor.

        I ran a fluffy list not long ago with 3 Maleceptors and 3x 4 Zoan’s and Nuero’s to see if nid smite army had legs. Tbh I did quite a bit of consitant damage with the Zoan’s 2d3 and then the Nuero’s. Their re-roll 1’s I felt offered more options to meet the increasing Warp Value of smite. It was nice to have the psychic overload of the Maleceptor as backup- so they did something since even with their +1 to tests I was more likely to fail an 11+ smite.

        However to be able to position them to be able to hit more than 1-2 units was difficult and it was only 1 damage. They completely whiffed in close combat, and I was running Kraken for the extra advance, and fall back and charge to help position them. To be viable as more than just a single support unit I really think they need a datasheet update with 1 or more of the following.
        a) +1 or 2 attacks
        b) WS3+
        c) Change Psychic Overload damage roll to be more like a Mawloc.
        1. Nothing; 2-3. 1 damage; 4-5. d3 damage; 6. 3 damage.

        Otherwise as you say, for combat, or smite there is more consistent damage dealing options for the points spent.

      • Avatar
        Brakhal December 30, 2018 1:36 pm #

        The Haruspex will do 12 attacks 1 out of every 81 trys, so never put your money on it. Most times it will do 7 to 9 attacks, more than double the ‘ceptor, but with a 1/3 the ap, and close to 1/2 the damage. From time to time, the ‘pex will do a lot of damage, but usually they’re looking to take down about 1-2 models, or a single 1d6 damage, when they swing. So, yeah, they’re both terrible on the offensive (well, the Maleceptor at least can do a few MW in the psychic phase).

        • Avatar
          abusepuppy December 31, 2018 12:14 am #

          If you’re digging into some infantry, which you generally should be, you get 4d3 attacks with the Haruspex- an average of eight. Of those four hit, and generally all four should wound (though of course dice being dice they might not.) With AP-2 that will generally mean four dead models, resulting in four more bonus attacks, yielding a total of twelve.

          • Avatar
            Brakhal December 31, 2018 2:20 am

            Now I see where you overstimate the Haruspex hitting power. It is s7 ap-1, not s8 ap-2. Unless against t3 s6+, those 4 impacts will kill 1-2 models more times that they will kill 3-4, resulting in 3-4 kills in an average swing.

    • Avatar
      N.I.B. December 30, 2018 1:24 pm #

      What Brakhal said, the Maleceptor could actually see some play in a fluffy list (Kraken feels like the obvious choice, it wants to be in the thick of things, not die and be annoying) whereas the Haruspex is just a joke. Also, pretty big miss to review it as a 5++ save. Suggests Danny is just theory-hammering and has never actually used the unit he’s reviewing.

      • Avatar
        Nurglitch July 10, 2019 10:24 am #

        There’s also an error regarding the amount of damage that Massive Scything Talons cause, although I’m not sure if it’s not an improvement to how damage they usually cause…

  2. Reecius
    Reecius December 30, 2018 9:00 am #

    Ask Pablo about how “Mally the Maleceptor” knocked him out of Adepticon, hahaha!

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy December 30, 2018 9:40 am #

      That story is… it’s crazy. It sounds almost unbelievable when you hear it in full.

      • Reecius
        Reecius December 30, 2018 10:38 am #

        Dude, lol, it’s too good, hahahaha. We still laugh about it but it’s true, he was seriously defeated by a Maleceptor! I will have to have him come and tell it, it’s comedy gold.

        • Avatar
          bonesaww666 December 30, 2018 5:44 pm #

          Dont leave this as a “just the tip moment”, i would love to hear the rest of this tale…

          • Avatar
            abusepuppy December 31, 2018 12:28 am

            So it’s actually a fairly involved story, and Pablo might tell it better, but the general gist is as follows:

            Pablo is playing at Adepticon and is rolling with a list that includes Celestine and two Shield Captains on Jetbikes. His opponent rolls up with a super-janky Tyranid list including a Maleceptor, so Pablo kinda thinks he’s got it in the bag. He deploys the characters pretty aggressively, and on the first turn moves them up into the middle of the table, prepping for a turn 2 assault.

            The Tyranid guy sends his Maleceptor trundling forward towards the character blob, and on his own second turn moves right up on top of them. In the psychic phase, he pops off the Maleceptor’s ability and does a single mortal wound to each of them- “No worries,” thinks Pablo, they still each have six wounds remaining, they’re fine. The Tyranid guy then charges the Maeleceptor into all three characters there. Which is suicide, right? A garbage MC versus three of the strongest fighters in the game is not even gonna be a challenge. Plus, the two Shield-Captains both have Victor of the Blood Games and 3+ invulns on them so they’re basically fine.

            Tyranid player swings, since he is on the charge. He allocates one attack to each of the three characters. Pablo things “weird, but okay” because what is that even gonna do? Tyranid guy rolls- all three attacks hit, even on 4+s. All three attacks wound, which is slightly unlikely but still not that crazy. Pablo rolls- Celestine takes her 4++, fails it. He spend a command point to reroll it, fails. Shield Captain #1 rolls, fails it. Rerolls with Victor, fails it. SHield Captain #2 rolls, fails it. Rerolls with Victor, fails it.

            The Haruspex then proceeds to roll damage on the three of them and gets 6, 6, and 6 again, blowing _all three_ characters out of the water in a single turn. And to top it all off, Celestine fails to get back up again. The one shitty little monster killed over 500pts of models with a perfect storm of rolls, tearing the heart right out of Pablo’s army then and there. It was absolute madness.

          • Avatar
            WestRider December 31, 2018 7:32 pm

            Wow. That’s not even a one in a million chance. I thought I had bad luck when Abaddon broke and got run down in two successive 6th Ed games, but this is a couple of orders of magnitude worse.

    • Avatar
      N.I.B. December 31, 2018 7:10 am #

      Yeah, that story, it had me in tears. Gold of 2018!

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