Tyranid Codex Review – Heavy Support: Mawloc

Hey everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, we talk about our other big snake that is all about the surprise, the mighty Mawloc! This snake is a tactical tool that requires a light touch, so if you want to continue to up your game, you should check out Frontline’s ever-expanding Tactics Corner

Equipment and Biomorphs:

  • Scything Talons – S6* AP0 D1 melee weapon that rerolls 1s to hit. If you have two or more pairs, +1 attacks.
  • Distensible Jaws – S6* AP -3 Dmg D6 melee weapon, you get one attack with this weapon (that you must use).
  • Biostatic Rattle – S6* AP-1 D1 melee weapon that can make 1 (and only 1) additional attack with this weapon. If a unit suffers any unsaved wounds from it, add 1 to their morale test at the end of the turn.
  • Prehensile Pincer Tail – S6* AP0 Dmg D3 melee weapon that can make 1 (and only 1) additional attack with this weapon.
  • Toxin Spike – S1 AP0 Dmg D3 melee weapon that can make 1 (and only 1) additional attack with this weapon. Always wounds on a 2+ except against Vehicles.
  • Adrenal Glands – +1 to charge/advance rolls.
  • Toxic Sacs – Each wound roll of a 6+ generates an additional damage.

Special Rules:

  • Instinctive Behavior: Unless within 24 inches of a HIVE FLEET synapse creature, -1 to hit for shooting attacks against any target that is not the closest, and -2 to charge a unit unless it is the closest.
  • Terror From the Deep: Can be set up in reserve and arrive at end of movement phase. You can set up anywhere more than 1 inch away from an enemy and more than 6″ away from any other Mawlocs arriving in the same fashion. For every enemy unit within 2″, roll a D6. On a 2-3, 1 mortal wound. On a 4-5, d3 mortal wounds, and on a 6, 3 mortal wounds. You cannot charge when you arrive.
  • Burrow – At beginning of your movement phase, if you are not within 1″ of an enemy unit, you can go back underground using the Terror From the Deep rules.  You cannot burrow and arrive in the same turn. If the Mawloc is not on the table when the game ends, it is considered destroyed.
  • Death Throes – When killed, on a 6, this model explodes and deals D3 mortal wounds to each unit within 3″.

Arguably the second most spammed Tyranid in 7th edition, the Mawloc is not what it once was, and like Faramir, you know its uses and they are few. You also probably underrate the Mawloc, too. It is easy to assume such as the Mawloc is not what we’d call immediately powerful. 12 wounds is nice, especially since a Mawloc is barely over a hundred points, so you are really paying less than 10 points for a T6 3+ save wound.  Keep that in mind.  Terror from the Deep has changed, and it is no longer capable of annihilating units in a single volley, but it is still the only model in the game that gets to deploy essentially anywhere it fits, so long as it stays outside of 1 inch (and more than 6 away from another Mawloc).  A Mawloc cannot charge unfortunately, but then they’d likely be far too powerful if that was the case.  Now, any unit within 2 inches when it appears takes mortal wounds on a 2+ (d3 on 4+ and 3 on a 6).  This isn’t a ton of output, but it can help snipe characters hiding in the backfield. If they die when near enemies, there is the chance they lash out and do some bonus mortal wounds, which can be hilarious. The math isn’t really in your favor here though, and while Terror from Below is its signature move, it is not about the damage, and if you play only for the damage, you’re missing a lot.

Really, the best part of the Mawloc is the freedom to show up wherever (after turn 1) and this means you can easily go threaten a backfield objective or position yourself in an inconvenient spot.  This really is their secret power: they are great at creating immediate threat in an opponent’s backfield.  They can do some chip damage to small units that are defending backfield objectives, and against a psyker that maybe has had a perils mishap, the Mawloc could be what finishes them off. A Mawloc doesn’t fight all that well, but it does pump out enough attacks to threaten weak units like the Loyal 32, Spikey 17, insert whatever, and well, there is also the psychological impact of a giant snake on your opponent’s side of the board.  They may dedicate heavy resources to bring it down, which maybe isn’t the right play depending on what else you have.  In terms of actual damage, a Mawloc isn’t all that scary, but it does have a large attack stat. It does have 7 base attacks, and with its talons, maw, and tail, it has 9 really, so that’s not too bad.  Most of your attacks are only S6 with no AP and single damage, but that’s enough to hurt weaker units, and the Maw, which is only 1 attack, can do decent damage if it hits.  All told, for 104 points, you get essentially a distraction Carnifex that forces your opponent to deal with the it or risk it getting to go on its merry way next turn and causing problems.  If you spend the CP, a Mawloc becomes a bit scarier thanks to being a Monster and being able to reroll wounds with the Stratagem. The Mawloc can also just gum up charge lanes since it can appear anywhere, so it pairs well with another unit of popping in somewhere that maybe does not want to get charged next turn.  Burrow is also huge as it really allows a Mawloc to reposition and fly across the board. Did it do its job and clear an objective that your Rippers can now take? Burrow and go for another one on the other side of the board.  Heavy melee threat bearing down? Time to hide and not give up an easy kill.  Burrow is huge, so make use of it.

Hive Fleet here does have some impact.  Jormungandr is the most likely and best to use simply for the synergies. As Jormungandr, the Mawloc can bring infantry units with it if you spend the CPs, so you can use the Mawloc as our cheapest large delivery system at just above 100 points with the added bonus of bringing ANY infantry up with it, not just Troops. For about the same price as a Tyrannocyte, you get more options and more transport capability to boot.  You can bring up a big unit of Shrikes, Tyrant Guard, or Haywire Hive Guard, or whatever else makes you feel good that is Infantry.  While the infantry has to be more than 9 away, the Mawloc doesn’t, so you can get some funky positioning tricks off with this.  Jormungandr also makes the Mawloc just that much harder to kill range with auto-cover, which is nice.  Kronos isn’t a bad choice either for ensuring that you can get a psyker in range of The Deepest Shadow.  If you really want the Mawloc to maybe put in work, Gorgon does help it get more work out of those 8 attacks with the reroll 1s to wound. Everyone else is…well, doesn’t really add much.

Of course, Mawlocs are not very threatening to anything with a good save or T6 and above.  They may have 9 attacks, but these are only for mulching light infantry or other soft targets.  The lack of any significant way to do multiple damage (aside from its one Maw attack and possibly the tail) means that the Mawloc is not a huge threat to vehicles or other monsters. Really, even against its ideal target, Guardsmen, it is only killing about 3 on average dice, and that’s pretty terrible.  It is enough to maybe cause issues in morale, but really, it is about forcing those guardsmens’ buddies to try and take down the snake before it gets to slowly munch a unit to death that just happens to be on top of an objective.  Part of the Mawloc’s problem is that they are only WS 4+ when healthy, and even with rerolling 1s to hit from the talons, that’s still not that great at the end of the day for a dedicated melee beast.    They do suffer terribly when they degrade, dropping down to S4 if near death, so once a Mawloc starts to take damage, it becomes less and less of an issue.  At T6 with a 3+ save, they are not that durable as standard Space Marines are wounding on 5s, and really, a good volley of basic fire will start to put wounds down to where the Mawloc is just not that threatening.  It looks scary because it is a big snake, but it really doesn’t do much other than maybe force a unit to fall back.  If we think of the Mawloc as a delivery system or a nuisance, then it can work, but don’t expect it to do meaningful damage.  The Mawloc requires smart placement, and you can’t just rush to bring it up on Turn 2.  You want to save it for Turn 3, or even better yet, deploy it somewhere safe on Turn 2, burrow on Turn 3, and bring it on Turn 4 where the field is far more open and your opponent is likely relying on one unit to hold a far-off objective.


70/100. A cheap monster that is the new Distraction Carnifex, but it requires a very deft hand to use effectively.  The Mawloc is not a damage dealer; it is a tricksy beasty that is about helping you win the mission, not table your opponent.  Thanks as always for reading, and if you are in the LA area at the end of April, you should definitely check out Battle for Los Angeles!


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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.

5 Responses to “Tyranid Codex Review – Heavy Support: Mawloc”

  1. WestRider April 7, 2019 5:18 am #

    Yeah, the chompin’ snek ain’t what it used to be, but that ability to pop up anywhere more than an inch away from an enemy offers plenty of opportunity for shenanigans.

  2. DaleM April 7, 2019 5:57 pm #

    It’s too bad they didn’t offer up more MW potential for this guy because shenanigans only goes so far.

  3. N.I.B. April 8, 2019 1:41 am #

    Another one hits the shelf.

  4. addnid April 8, 2019 4:31 am #

    Yeah that one I have tried it in a wide variety of builds, it is plain bad. It really needs a rework, not to be cheaper like some of our bugs.
    I agree with DaleM, if it dealt more MW all would be perfect. So it really doesn’t need huge tweak. It basically needs the same treatment the maleceptor does, both coming down to their respective MW dealing abilities

  5. Brakhal April 8, 2019 5:42 am #

    Poor missunderstood Mawloc. He is a pacifist, who means no harm to anyone. The vegan monster.

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