Review: Toxicrene, Maleceptor and GW release politics
I was in the process of writing a review on the Toxicrene and the Maleceptor when the new spore pods surprised us. On their own my review on the Toxicrene and the Maleceptor would have been a rather quick one. However, with all the other releases a more wholesome picture emerges.
In essence, the Toxicrene is a monstrous Toxothrope. It is a close combat creature that possesses deadly poisons and similar defensive abilities to the Toxothrope, meaning the special rule Shrouded. The shrouded ability is supposed to make the Toxicrene more resistant to shooting, as it does not have to rely on the 4+ save. Shrouded Tyranid units seem to be the new theme for Tyranids. As every army should bring a Toxothrope or Malanthrope and the new Mucolid Spores do possess the rule as well, Tyranids are seeking to overwhelm the enemy weapons platforms that have the Ignore Cover special rule. The other weakness of the Toxicrene is its slow movement, which prohibits it from ever reaching close combat. Luckily we now have the new spore pod, the Tyrannocyte. The Toxicrene should always be bought together with a pod or if not using one, be included in aggressive drop pod or skyblight swarm lists. This is absolutely necessary to give the Toxicrene a chance of reaching close combat. In the later approach of including it in aggressive drop pod or skyblight swarm lists, the Toxicrene can either advance once the enemy is busy with the other elements of the list or secure the back field. Deploying from a drop pod, the Toxicrene wants to hide in a piece of terrain in order to brace itself against what is most certainly coming, incoming fire. Ruins, which grant a 2+ cover save, are especially favorable.
Once in combat the Toxicrene is hitting with 6 attacks at initiative 6 due to Lash Whips. With its special rule Poison (2+), Hypertoxic and DS2 (as it is a monstrous creature) a Toxicrene is very dangerous, especially because you always have the chance of instant killing even the mightest of foes. In most cases you have this chance before the enemy can even strike, due to the Toxicrene’s initiative of 6. On the charge the Toxicrene has 7 attacks plus the Hammer of Wrath. With the special rules Acid Blood and Toxic Miasma, the Toxicrene also gains some defensive abilities that can hurt the enemy if it takes hits. Last but not least, the Toxicrene does have a shooting ability the Choking Cloud. The Coking Cloud continuous the poison theme and does wound everything on a 2+ with Ignores Cover. This means that you should be careful not to shoot yourself out of assault range if targeting models with low armor saves.
If we apply the same analogy for the Maleceptor as we did for the Toxicrene, then the Malecoptor must be a monstrous Zoanthrope, however with the looks that remind me more of an Ultralisk from the PC-Game Starcraft II. The Maleceptor does kind of mingle the classic look with the current Tyranid design. As I am huge fan of the old range of models, I like it.
The Maleceptor looses 3 Attacks and gains 2 Leadership, ironically 1 Strength as well. This does not mean that the Maleceptor is meant for close combat, tough. Quite the opposite is true; the Maleceptor likes to blasts you from afar with his psychic ability: Psychic Overload. Psychic Overload is a weaker version of Psychic Scream but with a range of 24 inches. The ability can be cast up to three times but you must choose different targets. When you first read the ability you might search for its use until you read the rules for Focused Witchfire. If more than the necessary successes are achieved, you may choose the model against which the ability is cast. In essence, you can snipe specific models that might try to hide in units or special weapons. This does make the ability interesting. However, I see to major draw backs that, at the current time, do make absolutely no sense as to why the model should cost 200 points. Psychic Scream needs 2 Warp Charges, so in order to achieve the bonus rule for Focused Witchfire you will need a lot of dice. If you want a decent chance to achieve 3 successes you will need 6 dice. This means, you have to use a good portion of your Warp Charges to cast the spell of the Maleceptor one time, let alone three times. Last but not least, Psychic Overload requires a roll to hit the target like all Witchfire spells. Unfortunately, the Maleceptor, for some reason, does not have the ballistic skill of a Zoanthrope, making a Witchfire spell very unappealing. To summarize, the Maleceptor requires a check for casting the spells, a test to hit the target, a test if the target fails its morale and only then the target takes D3 wounds. Characters do get their “Watch out Sir!”-roll as well. Therefore, I do not consider the rules to be well written. If you want still to field a Maleceptor, once again, be aware of the paltry save of 4+. He does have an invulnerable save 5+, tough. Still, I would never use a Maleceptor without the protection of a Toxotrophe-Bastion/Malanthrope-Combination in conjunction with terrain, preferably ruins.
GW release politics
A quick note on the fact that the rules for the Toxicrene and the Maleceptor are available for free on the GW webpage. In my 40K experience this is a first. I would be more than delighted to see more, if not all, updates made available for free. But before we all herald a new age of altruistic 40K, it might just be another experiment of GW because I have not seen the rules for the spores posted yet.
At first sight, free updates would not seem to improve sales if GW, after publishing the rules in the White Dwarf magazine, makes the rules available for free. I would not suspect that this will drive the sales of the White Dwarf. However, from a gamer’s perspective this would be a positive development. Let’s suppose you are a new player entering the 40K universe in half a year from today and you decide to collect Tyranids. The model of the Toxicrene immediately appeals to you. But 40K is a gaming system, so you unless you are mainly a collector and painter, you want to find out the rules of the model before buying it. Because who wants to buy something without having an idea about its uses? How would you then get access to the rules? Hunting down a used copy of the White Dwarf? For things like that I would have no patience. This would just add unnecessary annoyance, which is likely to lead to fewer sales in general, as I consider unnecessary annoyance a sale inhibitor. An artificial bottleneck for rules or certain options, because certain weapons are not included in a box, are in my opinion very bad for sales as people will look for alternatives. As a result GW is now scrambling to remove all units without actual models and then, so it seems, to re-release again. Free rules are not such a bad idea either because it increases the player base. Especially for newer gaming system, such as Bushido, it is a great idea to increase recognition for the game and company.
For a long time (many) 40K players have been complaining about the slow paste of releases. I think rightfully so. In today’s age it seems unlikely that customers will wait years for an upgrade to their aged product. Wargaming is a somewhat unique field, though. Yet an increasing number of real alternatives with well written rules exist. So far, I am a fan of the faster release paste of GW. It opens up the opportunity to create a more balanced and fun game, which in turn would drive sales. Many 40K players I know have become very careful in which models they buy because of the famous nerf bat that GW has swinging back and forth. Often times the nerf bat is required, sometimes is overzealous and an obvious way to increase sales for certain models. The clear advantage of faster releases could be, if desired, to get it right more often and find that middle path. The releases of the 2014 seem to be point into a future with balanced power levels. If every codex would be as powerful as Tau and Eldar, it might as well be that the set-up of the game would take longer than the actual game itself. So we are definitely seeing a flood of new releases and I think we should embrace it.
With the rapid release schedule of GW, you can expect multiple upgrades, at least one for each codex within one year. So if you bought the Tyranid codex in January, you now have multiple additions that you can bring to your games: FAQs, 3 Leviathan Supplement, Toxicrene, Maleceptor, Tyrannocyte, Sporocyst, Mucolid Spore Clusters, Neurothrope, Shield of Baal. This does raise the question, how willing players will be to pay current prices for the hard cover codices. I would be very interested to see the actual sale numbers for codices and supplements. I am not convinced that this is sound business strategy in the era of the internet with countless forums and blogs GW, where rules are already easy to come by. I especially doubt that the supplements are selling well with their trifling amount of actual rules included. At this point I would like to point out that copyright infringement is illegal and I do not condone it. However, I do think that it is an important question for players to ask themselves if they want to buy a hard cover book that will be incomplete within a year – if not months. How do you know that Zoanthropes can now be fielded in units of up to 6 models and may include the Neurothrope upgrade? More on that in the future.
Here are the rules for the Toxicrene and the Maleceptor:
Mit freundlichen Grüßen