Since the release of the new Tyranid codex, I have heard and read complaints about how the Swarmlord is one of the worst models in the codex: What he does is not worth the points you have to pay; He only has a 3-up armour save, and a 4-up invulnerable save that only works in close combat. Well, having played quite a few games with my Tyranids, and usually fielding a Swarmlord, I can honestly say that all of that is rubbish. I admit, he is not the greatest model in the game, and for some reason I cannot seem to beat Moloc in close combat, but in the friendly games that I have played, the Swarmlord has held his own.
When I run the Swarmlord, I usually field him with a full Tyrant Guard Brood. This adds 150 points to his 285 points, making the unit cost 415 points. I don’t add anything to the guard because the guard are already T6 S5 with a 3-up save. The tyrant guard brood comes equipped with rending claws. Since they automatically pass lookout sir rolls, this adds 6 wounds to the Swarmlord, greatly helping his ability to make it into combat.
The Swarmlord, being a level 3 psyker, has a decent shot at getting Catalyst. Catalyst, if it goes off, gives the Swarmlord and his guards, and one other friendly unit within 12 inches, feel no pain. Feel no pain on a T6 model is a beast. And I have seen many feel no pain rolls made between the Swarmlord and units I have faced who had it. If you give the Swarmlord dominion, his synapse range goes up to 24 inches, covering most of the board. And if the Swarmlord gets Warp Blast, he has a great shooting attack.
The Swarmlord also can give his unit, or a friendly unit within 18 inches, Furious Charge, Monster Hunter, or Preferred Enemy. When I play him, I almost always give him and his guard preferred enemy. Getting to re-roll those ones while in close combat has come in very handy.
On top of all of that, 5 attacks, WS 9, 5 wounds and an Initiative of 6, he is usually going to wreck anything in close combat.
I admit, there are things I do not like about the Swarmlord as a unit. I wish he had the OPTION of adding one to reserve rolls, not that you had to add 1. I also wish that he couldn’t be instantly killed and that he had fleet.
So, while he may not be the best unit to bring into a tournament, one should not say that the Swarmlord is a bad character. He has won me a few games, and he has absorbed a lot of firepower.
Except from Asterion Moloc. Damn that Moloc.