5th Ed. Tyranids: Die Nemesis Von Malan'tai

Eventually, my evaluation of the 5th Edition bugs had to come to my favorite new unit in the codex.  I’m so excited, I can hardly contain myself: Die Nemesis Von Malan’tai is here!

Despite his popularity with yours truly, I’ve yet to actually field him in game, so keep in mind that any analysis of the unit you see below is purely speculative, and probably written with a rose-colored tint.  One of these days, I’ll work up a suitable conversion and then he’ll see the light of day.  Until then, it’s theory-hammer all of the way…

The Good

Aside from sounding incredibly evil, this guy has some very sneaky (and unique) tricks up his sleeve.  For starters, he’s the only model I can think of in the entire game with a stat-line that fluctuates as the battle rages on.  Many models base part of their statline on die-rolls, but that’s left to chance.  A skilled player can ensure that the Doom’s statline (or rather, his Wounds and Strength) will increase over time–beyond even it’s base level. 

He also gets basically two shooting attacks per turn.  I say “basically” because one of them is not strictly classified as a shooting attack, but it happens in the shooting phase.  Spirit Leech sucks wounds out of nearby units by forcing them to make a leadership test on 3d6 and taking an AP2 wound by each point they fail by.  This has sparked a ton of debate as to whether this should be classified as a shooting attack, if cover saves are allowed, if it affects models inside vehicles, and several other questions.  More on that in the “Ugly” assessment below.   Regardless of how the above debate plays out, Doom has a second ability in the form of a 24″ psychic shooting attack.  It’s AP1, STRx, and a large blast!  Did Tyranids just get a Demolisher Cannon?

Oh hell yes.  Sure, it’s likely to be lower strength (due to it’s variable nature, but that should be easy enough to pump up), but it’s on an infantry unit, and it’s got better AP (handy for dispatching vehicles).  Oh, and ours is only 90 points.

And what am I thinking?  I forgot the coolest part!  The most obvious positive point for this guy is that when translated to German he clearly has the coolest sounding name in the codex.  As Tool has proven, anything said in German sounds infinitely more evil.  Check out the video below for proof:

The Bad

All of this and brains too?  Well, unfortunately not.  Though he is clearly based upon a Zoanthrope, he does not gain the synapse special rule. This means that he’ll have to move ahead with the rest of your army–or you can try to go it alone with him.  The upside of this tactic is that, he’s one of the units that survived the general decimation of Tyranid leadership.  He can concievably be played outside of Synapse and should be controllable about 91% of the time–and for those few times he reverts to instinctive behavior, he’ll run for cover and nuke nearby enemies.  That’s not even that bad.

His stat-line is really that of a Zoanthrope, so he’s not going to be impressing anyone in combat.  Despite his (potentially) high strength, and his ability to inflict instant death on his foes, his lack of a power weapon makes horrible in assaults.  Well, why would you get such an obvious shooting unit into hand to hand then?  The answer is, it’s going to be unavoidable in many cases.  Since his Spirit Leech has only a  6″ range, you’re going to have to put him into charge range of your enemies to use him to full effectiveness.  

His demolisher cannon, though crazy fun, also hurts him to fire.  Again, with crazy rules, this is one of the few units in the game with the ability to kill itself (along with plasma gunners & daemonhosts)–so you’ll need to be careful.  It also means that once his wounds get low enough, it may prove difficult to climb back up the slippery slope to make him effective again.

Another kick in the pants is his low toughness.  With synapse no longer granting Eternal Warrior, he’s going to be fodder for melta weapons everywhere.  Though really, with his ability to have up to ten wounds for a single model (at a measly 90 points), would it be fair to have given him toughness five?  Of course, toughness five wouldn’t have given him completely immunity to ID, but it would be darn close. 

Lastly, he’s competing against a wealth of good units in the Elites slot.  Though the Doom can do numbers to a tank or infantry, so can Zoanthropes, and they’re more dependable. 

The Ugly

Without a doubt, there is much debacle about how Malan’tai’s powers work, and it doesn’t look like the internet is going to come to a consensus on this one.  Only a ruling in an official FAQ from GW will clear this up. 

If you want my opinion, I’d say that it doesn’t affect models that are inside tanks, and your opponent should get cover saves.  Though there are reasonable arguments to the contrary, I’m of the opinion that it’s better to give your opponent the benefit of the doubt on weird rulings questions.  The advantage of doing so (aside from the fact that people will start believing you’re a decent human being) is that things can only get better: either GW rules against the ability–at which point anyone who’s been playing otherwise will cry nerf and be upset, or they’ll rule in favor of it and every Tyranid player rejoices.  It’s better to play with a (possible) handicap on the ability now, with the potential to be happy in the future, than to play with an ability that might be removed.

In the meantime, Really, he’s a great unit choice even without being able to affect transported troops.  He’s one of the very few units in the army that can bypass terminator armor (hell, power armor for that matter), and is one of the few large template wielders as well.  He also gets two effective (and devastating) shots per turn. 

The unit will really shine when he’s close to the enemy, but supported by other units.  He’ll need to be close so he can force wounds via leaderhip tests, but screened by other units so as to avoid combat.  The best way to do this effectively will undoubtedly be with the use of a landing spore.  This way he can drop into the thick of a battle, and use the landing spore to ensure he can get close to whatever he wants without the risk of a mishap (yay for drop pod rules)!  At that point, he can be screened by other deep strikers, or he can use his spore to his advantage.  

Since neither the spore or the Doom have official models, it’s up to players to convert them up.  Logic would dicatate that they should be roughly the size of a drop pod and a Zoanthrope (respectively), but players are really left to their own devices to come up with a suitable model.  If the Doom is smaller than the pod (as it should be), it can use it as cover, or to completely obscure it from it’s enemies.  If the pod is smaller than 5″ around, he can also use his Spirit Leech attack through the drop pod–allowing him to hurt units that can’t hurt him back.  Now, I’m not in any way trying to encourage people to use modelling to their advantage.  I’m just trying to brainstorm some viable tactics.

 Of course, when anyone mentions German and the Doom in a post together, they’re required by law to post a link to the following video:

Far be it from me to violate the unwritten laws of the Internets.  I first saw this video over at Pink Tyranid’s blog, and it was snatched up by BoLS shortly thereafter.  I say this because I want to give him credit for finding this masterpiece (though proper credit really needs to go to whomever created it), but I also want to just give Skcuzzlebumm props for a great site.  The particular thread linked to above has a nifty mock-up of a Doom if you’re looking for conversion ideas.

 Personally, with my love of templates (and of Zoanthropes as well), this guy is easily my favorite unit in the new codex.  Hopefully he’s as fun as he sounds!


DOOM artwork and countless other awesome games (including the classic DOOM itself) by http://www.idsoftware.com/.


10 comments on “5th Ed. Tyranids: Die Nemesis Von Malan'tai

  1. Thanks for the acknowledgement but as my blog and I second the notion that people should check out Hydra and Moloch's nids on Hive Fleet Moloch as they are second to non.Regarding the Doom in games, this weekend I faced it with my Orks and all I can say is OMG! Provided its jammy enough to pass 3+ Inv versus S8 there is little you can do to stop it. It single handedly stopped my army in its tracks and killed my Warboss, Nob Bikers and god knows how many Orks. The worst thing is that is soul leech is in BOTH shooting phases which means to charge, unless you are cavalry, you must suffer its wrath first.In hindsight I should have just circumnavigated it and concentrated on everything else.

  2. Whoa! Thanks for opening my eyes to this one. I didn't see that it alsohappens in the opposing shooting phase (though how something as obviouslyworded as that escaped me, I'll never be sure). With that being the case,he doesn't have to charge to be effective. But he is almost required tooperate independantly since his wound sucking affects your own models.Of course, that opens up the door to have him suck wounds out of a nearbygaunt squad to puff himself up to begin the game. Hrmmm… thanks forcluing me in, skcuzz. 🙂

  3. Actually he doesn't effect friendlies as the rules say “enemy non vehicle units”….In a pod it is a pain to deal with and a snipe at 140pts. In KP's the pod is an easy kill but otherwise I would expect to see one in every competitive Nid army that can.

  4. It's actually 130 points for the Doom in a spore, and while it can definitely whomp enemies pretty hard, it's by no means a required unit. The elite slot is full of great units(…and the pyrovore:( ), the biggest cost to taking the Doom is using up one of the elite slots. A plodding Tyranid army can use the Doom as a distraction, but it's debatable whether it's a better choice than more Zoes/Hive Guard/Deathleaper/Venomthrope(maybe)Also, I'm pretty sure Doom is IB-Feed, so it'll run straight at whatever is closest if it fails its IB test. Having it stuck in CC vs an army without Power Fists isn't necessarily a bad option, either. Sure, you lose the ability to fire the big blast template, but it still has its 3++…AND spirit leech will go off before every cc round, and will hit any units in the assault, plus whatever else is nearby.As long as you can protect Doom from ID(a Tyranid Prime joined to it can do wonders for that in the shooting phase, btw…also helps in protracted CC), it can be a game-changer.

  5. I want to love that poor guy SOOO much…but those rules are SOOOO bad. I always just assumed the rumor codex just forgot to add in that the template was fired like a hellhound…which would have made sense judging by the angle and size of his fleshy barrel(ahem)…but no, he's just a big lame Heavy Flamer…truly dissappointing.

  6. Important note: the Doom's Instinctive Behaviour is Feed, not Lurk. He will attempt to charge whatever delicious souls are in his area, not throw magic lasers at them. It's not really a bad thing (since you want him in combat anyways, so he can't be Missile Launcher'd out, and his aura still triggers), but it is worth noting.

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