Monday, February 9, 2015

Are Swarmlords Obsolete?

When was the last time you took a Swarmlord as an HQ choice instead of a Flyrant?  Have changes in the 7th ruleset and in our codex made Swarmy a tough sell in 1850-2000 pt games?

Just to come clean here, I was a Swarmlord guy for most of 6th edition, and even for a while during 7th.  I just about had him listed on my army list template in permanent marker, along with the obligatory Tyrant Guard.  How could you not like that guy?  He could cast 3 psychic powers a turn.  That was quite awesome when we could use the base ruleset powers; Biomancy rocked!  He gave a nearby unit preferred enemy, he rocked (and still does) in CC.  He also buffed that crucial reserve roll (and still does).  Even though he was slow to move across the board, he was truly an anchor for my army.  He was also a great complement to Spores dropping in, as he could buff some of those units by turn 3 if he kept moving.  Finally, he usually scared the crap out of my opponents who always did their best (but I am proud to say only once succeeded) to take him out.  I think my favorite Swarmlord story was when an opponent drop podded a 10-man Sternguard squad in to assasinate him and his entourage.  They took out two Guard and put a would on another by the time I got into CC with him. over!  They put a single wound on him (and removed the last Guard), but they and their precious pod were toast.
Then came 7th and the new dex.  Flyrants became all the rage with the FMC and flyer rules.  They were mobile, could shoot, and hard to hit, let alone kill.  Moreover in 7th, the grounding rules made it harder to take down an FMC when they were hit.   Flyrants were also more flexible, being able to accept biomorphs and a wide range of weapons.  They usually roll in at around 280 pts with wings and twin-linked devourers.  Throw in a special rule and you have a 300 pt model.  Swarmy always drops in at around 290 pts, but taking the, IMO, obligatory Tyrant Guard (3) raises him to a minimum of around 440 pts.  Although he can still buff your reserve rolls, I can purchase a Comms Relay to do that for a lot less points (reroll instead of a +1).
Swarmlord 2
The new formations that have arrived since last January have also made the Flyrant a more flexible choice.  Several of these require the presence of a Tyrant, not a Swarmlord.  One of the newest formations, from Leviathan, also gives a Flyrant the ability to attach a gaggle of Gargoyles for a boat load of ablative wounds (2+ Look Out Sir).  The downside is that he can only move like Jump Infantry, but this means he is still very mobile and still a reasonable threat...though not against flyers of course.  The other formations are for those who want to Flyer spam someone to death, but this seems to be a popular choice in the new meta.
Swarmlord 1
It is difficult for me to choose the Swarmlord now.  He is slow, can't shoot (in a codex that revels in shooting), and the new psychic rules take away any real advantage from that 3rd warp charge he generates (as opposed to the two from a Tyrant).  His old ability to use three powers in a turn, and the lack of the ability to use Biomancy have caused his psychic prowess to be neutered.  If I want some psychic throw down for around 400 pts, why not take a brood of six Zoanthropes in a Spore?  They would be mobile and can shoot the crap out of just about anything they fire at.  With that 3++ save, they are very survivable as well.  12 wounds at 3++ (albiet T4), or 11 wounds at 3+ with a Swarmy and retinue?  Of course I would have to take enough other psychic capable units to give me a reasonable pool of warp charges, but on a point basis I think that Zoey Spore is more bang for the buck.
I am certain their are those of you have found ways to make the Swarmlord work.  However, there have been significant changes in 7th edition Psychic rules, a lack of flexibility in choice of psychic powers, and any ability to shoot in a rule set that loves shooting.  All of these factors, I am sad to say, make Swarmy a difficult choice for me in anything but our annual Big Game (5000+ points).
How many of you still field a Swarmlord in casual games?

1 comment:

  1. Swarmy lost his touch. His rules need to be changed, or he needs the ability to have wings to make him possibly useful again. He's just too slow compared to FMC's :(.


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