Tyranids: 9th Ed Forgeworld Review – Malanthrope

Hey everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, I am burdened with glorious purpose as I begin doing a deep dive review on every entry in the new 9th edition Forgeworld Compendium for Tyranids. I did an overview last week, but now, it is time to go into the first, maybe the greatest, entry in the book, the mighty, mighty Malanthrope. Don’t forget, our waiting-to-be-collected biomass also got some upgrades, so keep an eye out on the Tactics Corner!

The Malanthrope is a support piece, an expensive one, but one that can open up interesting secondary options while also just giving a general defensive buff that Nids need. Let’s break it down:


  • Grasping Tail: Melee. S+1. AP -1. D2. Reroll wounds with this weapon

Special Rules:

  • Shadow in the Warp – Enemy, non-TYRANID psykers suffer -1 to psychic tests when within 18″ of this model.
  • Synapse – Friendly HIVE FLEET units ignore morale tests when within 12″ of this model.
  • Enhanced Toxic Miasma: At the end of the Fight Phase, roll a d6 for each enemy unit within Engagement Range. On a 4+, that unit takes d3 Mortal Wounds.
  • Shrouding Spores (Aura): Enemies shooting at a friendly HIVE FLEET (Non-Titanic) unit within 6″ of this model suffer -1 to hit.
  • Prey Adaption: If an enemy model is destroyed within 3″ of this model, at the end of the phase, this model gains the following ability until the end of the game: Prey Adaption (Aura) – Friendly HIVE FLEET units within 6″ of this model can reroll 1s to wound.

The primary reason that you take the Malanthrope is the Shrouding Spores rule, improved in 9th to a 6” aura of -1 to hit for ranged attacks.  What is key here is that this aura affects units, not models, so you can string out large squads to still receive the benefit while pushing forward. -1 to hit doesn’t seem amazing on the surface, but it adds up, and really, it benefits all styles of Nids.  If running a Gant-Wall, having your opponent suddenly take 16% less efficiency in trying to kill 150+ models can really add up, especially if you throw in the other defensive buffs.  If running a Monster-Mash style list, that -1 also adds up as again, chances are they are sending high quality, low volume shooting into your big threats, so getting them to miss just one more time can be the difference between a living monster and a dead one.  Even if doing more of a skew list of medium infantry, everyone benefits.  Zoanthropes with their 3++ still benefit from a -1 to hit. With a 6” aura, you do have some room to maneuver although you are mostly focused on a castle unless you take 2, and taking 2 does add up.

The other rules are a bit more corner case but are certainly useful. Prey Adaption can turn the Malanthrope into a Space Marine lieutenant, giving out a reroll 1s to wound aura, which is great if you can get it to happen.  The easiest way is to bait a charge against a shooting element and then getting the Malanthrope in within 3” during the counter-assault that clears off the forward attack.  It is better to lose efficiency on one model for a turn and then get a reroll aura later for more of your forces. Exocrines, Hive Guard, Barbed Hierodules with reroll 1s to wound? Seems good.  Again, it is not the easiest thing to achieve, but if you can get it to work, it is a good boost. 

The Enhanced Toxic Miasma is also nice, doing potentially d3 mortal wounds to each enemy unit within Engagement Range on a 4+.  That can help finish off a character or just do a little bit of extra heat.  Again, not something to rely on in terms of offense, but hey, it is worth remembering.

The Malanthrope as a model is also somewhat resilient with 9W at T5, but more importantly, it is a character, so it hides pretty well.  You do need to be quite careful with it because those 9W are good for making it harder for Snipers to just wax it in one turn, but it will absolutely not survive any real attention as it only has a 5+ armor save and that’s it.   A Neurothrope is much more survivable overall or even a Broodlord, so you have to treat the Malanthrope a bit more delicately. 

In terms of offense, well, that’s not why you are taking this bug.  4 attacks at WS 4+ are no good, and while those attacks can theoretically take out a character thanks to D2 and rerolling wounds inherently, that is an act of desperation, so it is best to keep the Malanthrope out of the fight as much as possible.  On turn 5 perhaps when there really isn’t anything else on the board, then maybe you send in the Malanthrope to try and clear an objective or get a last kill related secondary, but again, don’t rely on this bug for any kind of killing.

The Malanthrope is a character, but there really aren’t any relics worth giving it.  If you aren’t just Resonance Barb for some reason and just want to throw out a random relic, Ymgarl Factor isn’t that wasted on a Malanthrope or the Norn Crown, but again, why aren’t you taking the Resonance Barb? Hive Fleet is totally open here as the Malanthrope is a support character, and again, it really works with everyone. That said, it depends on what you are doing here. The Malanthrope really loves Jormungandr for making that gunline even more survivable (but the Malanthrope flies so don’t expect it to survive any better), Leviathan for giving out both a -1 to hit and a 6+++ Feel No Pain, or Kraken for the extra speed on the advance since the Malanthrope needs to be able to position itself, and a bad advance roll can slow your whole formation down.

The downsides to the Malanthrope is that it is 150 points, which makes it an expensive HQ for us that adds almost no offense consistently.  Taking 2 means that well, you now have a significant chunk of points in models that are not really doing much, but then, in 9th, you win more games by sitting someplace more than just killing something, and Malanthropes are all about making your bugs better at sitting someplace.  The Malanthrope does offer some secondary meta choices. If running a Gant-Wall, the Malanthrope becomes a good choice for While We Stand, We Fight, which is great since the Malanthrope stays out of the scrum and can live for 5 turns.  The Malanthrope is also not a psyker, so it does not bleed Abhor the Witch like Neurothropes or Broodlords.  This is worth it if you are looking at a list that tries to deny easy secondaries, which is especially wise in a Gant-wall list.

The Malanthrope is much more expensive that Venomthropes, but Malanthropes are generally easier to keep alive. You do need to be careful about positioning though as a 6” aura is certainly better than the previous 3”, it still puts a leash on your units.  You need to practice moving in formation, which units to activate first, and be sure to also measure out the Malanthrope’s projected path so you know the minimum you could move to not accidently leave a squad or two out of the aura.  This takes practice to utilize effectively, but it can certainly be done.

Overall,  the Malanthrope is a must own model for a Tyranid player thanks to its support.  If you can’t get the Forgleworld model, an easy conversion is to use the Hive Tyrant kit, use the flying tail/torso/head, ignore the wings/legs/arms, and use greenstuff and bitz to make some tentacles, and boom, there you go. 

*Since this my first unit review of 9th edition, I’ll repeat my ranking system, 0-100.  Anything over 70 is, in my view, workable for a purely competitive environment, anything under 40 is actively detrimental to you, regardless of narrative, casual, or competitive, 90+ is basically an auto-include outside of skew or very focused lists, and anything 100 is absolutely bananas broken and probably needs to be fixed.

Final score: 92/100.  This is a must-have model for just about any style of Tyranids, and its only downside is its cost, which is worth it.

Thanks as always for reading. Be sure to check out TFG Radio’s page to maybe win some cool product and exercise both your writing skills and hating skills. Play games if you can and stay safe all!

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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.
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