T’au Unit Review [FW] – Lord of War: Manta Super Heavy Dropship

Charlie here from 40kDiceRolls, here again, to discuss the biggest model in all of 40k – the Manta. As always, for more tactics articles, check out the Tactics Corner!


The Manta Missile Destroyer is an extremely well-armored frontline ship capable of not only supporting ground-based troops but also of carrying entire Hunter Cadres within its cavernous hull. They’re also capable of interstellar flight and rival entire squadrons of Imperial ships. This combination of both space and planetary support has resulted in the Manta becoming a mainstay of the T’au forces in multiple campaigns and fronts.

On the tabletop, The Manta is a Lord of War choice, single model unit.

*” 5+ * 8 8 60 5 8 3+

Remaining W M BS
30 to 60 20 – 60″ 2+
19 to 29 20″ – 45″ 3+
10 to 18 20″ – 30″ 3+
1 to 9 20″ – 25″ 4+


The Manta is armed with two heavy rail cannons, six long-barrelled ion cannons, two missile pods, sixteen long-barrelled burst cannons, and ten seeker missiles.

Heavy rail cannon

  • 120″ Macro 1 S18 AP-5 D[2D6], every 6 To-Wound causes D3 additional mortal wounds

Long-barrelled ion cannon (LBIC)

  • Standard: 96″ Heavy 3 S7 AP-2 D2
  • Overcharge:  96″ Heavy D3 S8 AP-2 D3, mortal wound to the Manta if you roll at least one 1 To-hit roll. Changes to Heavy 2D3 if firing on a unit with 10 or more models.

Missile pod (MP)

  • 36″ Assault 2 S7 AP-1 D[D3]

Long-barrelled burst cannon (LBBC)

  • 36″ Heavy 4 S5 AP0 D1

Seeker missile

  • 72″ Heavy 1 S8 AP-2 D[D6], need at least 2 markerlights to hit at normal BS, else you just with these just on a 6.

Special Rules

  • Airborne
    • Can only charge or be charged by units that can <Fly>
  • Colossal Flier
    • Always measure to the hull for shooting and psychic attacks. Subtract 1 from enemy To-Hit rolls in the Shooting phase. Can move and shoot Heavy weapons without penalty.
  • Supersonic
    • Standard 90 degree pivot then moves and add 20″ when it advances.
  • Hover Jet
    • Can declare that it will hover to change its movement to just 20″, and it loses the Airborne, Collasal Flyer, and Supersonic abilities until the beginning of your next movement phase.
  • Transport Elevator
    • Set up disembarking models within 3″ of its rear exit ramp. No that’s not a euphemism.
  • Energy Shield
    • 4++ save
  • Crash and Burn
    • On a 4+ on a D6, it explodes for D6 mortal wounds within 1″.


Ever feel like your miniatures were just too…mini? Have I got the model for you. This baby is 25 inches long with a wingspan of 34 inches. That’s bigger than some children. It weighs 28 pounds which is as much as a medium-sized dog. If you need to compensate for anything (and I do mean anything) this will do it. It’s not only the biggest and heaviest chunk of resin that FW sells, but it’s also the most expensive at $1,625. My first car cost less than that.

The Manta is not something you’ll see in everyday games for multiple reasons – the cost being a huge one. It’s also point-costed to be unplayable in any regularly 2000 point matched play game because it costs about 2000 points on its own. It’s ideal for Apocalypse and unplayable, really elsewhere. Those of you who are only-tournament players can stop reading here because it will have no effect on your regular matched play tournament games. In other scenarios, though, it might get some play (if only you know someone with one). Personally, I’ve never even seen one.

Assuming an Apoc game with beer and your buddies, what does the Manta do? It’s a giant transport with respectable firepower and large wound pool. The transport capacity is sheer ridiculousness as you can easily fit another 2000+ points worth of units inside of it. Specifically, it can transport up to 55 models of either/or <T’au Empire> <Infantry> or <Drones> in upper deck capacity. If you thought “upper deck” insinuates more than one deck, you’d be right. It can also transport up to 145 (because 150 is over-powered) <T’au Empire> <Infantry>, <Drone>, and/or models with both <Battlesuit> and <Commander> keywords in the lower deck. Also can transport up to four of the following in any combination: Devilfish, Hammerhead, Heavy Bombardment Hammerhead, Fire Support Hammerhead. Oh and those Devilfish that are embarked on the Manta? They can have stuff embarked on them too for embark-ception. Unless you’re a collector or long-time T’au player, this thing can hold more models in it that you might have in your entire collection.

It’s heavy rail cannons are perfect against the type of unit you’d see in an apoc game. Against <Titanic> and <Building> targets, you double the damage from the heavy rial cannon because it’s a Macro weapon. And strength 18 is just “out of this world” bonkers against any sort of normal target, wounding even a Shadowsword on a 2. The rest of the armament is great for clearing out infantry and light vehicles to really round out the firepower of the unit. 64 strength 5 shots hitting on 2’s is going to erase a lot of chaff (not that that’s super common in apoc games, I’m told). It’s 4++ save will help it against most shots unless your opponent can otherwise ignore an invulnerable save.

Here are a few interesting points. The blast radius is just within 1″ because of just how big it is (easily takes up a fourth of a regular 4×6 foot table) but somehow only does D6 mortal wounds. For something that large I would have expected more. You have to measure to the hull when targeting it and it’s not sold with a base. Owners of the Manta are assumed to be able to use the rest of their vast resources (they bought on, remember) to come up with their own method of basing it. As such, you’ll find a wide variety of methods to accomplish this as well as base sizes. When you pay this much for a model, you probably want a very large, very solid base to put it on. All this to say, it’s not unheard of for it to be mounted on something greater than 12″ high and thus, since you measure to the hull, many short-range weapons might not have the range to hit it, even standing directly next to the base. Lastly, and related to the base size, you will be able to move-block the shit out of anything.


The Manta is big and while they can be advantageous for reasons stated above, it can also be a hindrance to the T’au player. If your board has any sort of terrain, placing this model will be extremely difficult and as a result, dictate where it will have to go. Its size also means that you’ll basically always be able to see it, even over other terrain pieces. It only relies on its 4++ save to keep it alive so even something as simple as a Death Hex will make it MUCH more vulnerable. T8 is not anything crazy for a super heavy and there are plenty of things at the Apoc-level that can threaten that. Furthermore, it can be assaulted by things with <Fly> so even a daemon prince could prove troublesome when combined with other forces. Overall, it’s not worth its points so anything efficient you have can stand up to it well.


The Manta is a rare and sought-after Forge World model that is really only suitable for extreme collectors. It has no place in casual or competitive games. If you’ve actually seen one, you’re in amongst a small company. For the small subset of you that play Apoc and the smaller subset of those that play T’au Apoc, you’re probably already aware of what this is. For the rest of you, revel in its glory should you ever get the chance.

Have you ever seen a Manta?

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




About Charlie A.

Mathhammer is best hammer. Follow Charlie on twitter @40kDiceRolls for mathhamer, painting pictures, and a generally good time.

2 Responses to “T’au Unit Review [FW] – Lord of War: Manta Super Heavy Dropship”

  1. Avatar
    Blight May 20, 2019 6:13 am #

    Would like to point out that colossal flyer says to measure to the hull as if it were laid flat against the table so doesn’t matter how high the flying stand takes it. It does however also force you to add an extra 12″ to your distance to it if you don’t have the fly keyword so short range weapons like meltas or pistols can’t even hit it.

  2. Avatar
    Dakkath May 21, 2019 11:18 pm #

    Gonna paraphrase the 1d4chan entry on this one:

    Use the money you’re thinking of spending on this thing, buy a smartcar, paint it ochre, and use it as a proxy.

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