The Maleceptor was generally ignored in competitive circles prior to the release of Psychic Awakening: Blood of Baal (BoB). While it is unlikely to gain any serious benefit from the Hive Fleet Adaptations or Adaptive Physiologies BoB brings to the table, the new stratagem Encephalic Diffusion is solid enough to give Maleceptors more consideration.
Encephalic Diffusion costs 2 CPs and causes ranged weapons targeting your units within 6” of the Maleceptor to resolve their attacks at -1 strength, to a minimum of 1. Against some weapons (Executioner Cannons and the like), this won’t affect the wound rolls at all, however, against many common weapons (Bolt weapons of all kinds) this will be very effective.
While Encephalic Diffusion can be very helpful in keeping your big bugs alive, I think its greatest use is with your infantry. The most common weapons for taking out your infantry are Bolters and their equivalents. The most dangerous troops using these weapons are Space Marines because they will usually be getting rerolls for all failed hits and rerolls of 1’s to wound. That generally makes every shot count for a lot. And while the Malanthrope was often used to reduce the hit roll, the ability to reroll all hits that Space Marines usually get drastically reduces the effectiveness of that defense. Few armies, however, get to reroll all wounds. This makes Encephalic Diffusion much more impactful.
Let’s look at how the math works out for Encephalic Diffusion on our basic troops.
Encephalic Diffusion: Infantry
Lasguns, Bolt weapons, and even Heavy Bolters are much less effective, even with full rerolls. This is all before considering any other potential buffs. Having an extra 2-3 Genestealers or gaunts survive every time a Tactical Squad unloads bolters into them is definitely handy. I think it’s especially useful if running a lot of Genestealers as they benefit the most often against different weapon types.
But how does Encephalic Diffusion affect the Maleceptor itself (if it dies, it’s not buffing anybody!) and other big monsters?
Encephalic Diffusion: Monsters
This really has a big effect on the toughness 8 monsters. Lascannons are wounding on 4’s now and Exocrines are going to be very survivable with this and Dermic Symbiosis! (Wounds from Lascannons and Missile Launchers were basically cut in half!) Toughness 6 monsters are less likely to see any real benefit, however, except against mass small arms fire which will generally go to wounding them on 6’s instead of 5’s. And against some weapons, there was no benefit at all. Which begs the question:
Are Maleceptors Worth It?
The answer to this question is a resounding “Maybe…” If you face a lot of anti-infantry firepower, use a swarm, and likely won’t lose the Maleceptor early on then it could be worth it.
One good list for a Maleceptor is one with Tervigons and Termagants. Those swarms will last longer and be harder to completely eliminate which means you will be able to keep those broods alive and continue to replenish them throughout the game. And your Tervigons will be much more survivable too! A Maleceptor in this list could absolutely cause problems for your opponent.
Seems strong if using a lot of Genestealers and Swarmlord if you want help keeping all of them alive. Staying at or above 10 Genestealers in your broods makes a big difference!
Also, this could be a big buff if using lots of Exocrines and other monsters that like to stay at range.
Otherwise, it can get difficult to justify the cost of 160 points and 2 CPs each turn you use Encephalic Diffusion. Of course, you also get another monster with Massive Scything Talons and great casting ability that’s also Synapse and as durable as a Hive Tyrant for those points. And no one says you HAVE to spend the CPs if the weapons your opponent brought are likely to ignore most of the benefit anyway so it’s not a total loss if Encephalic Diffusion isn’t very helpful in certain matchups.
If your opponent takes out the Maleceptor immediately, we aren’t getting any buffs for those 2 CP we just spent. So how do we keep the Maleceptor alive to benefit from Encephalic Diffusion?
Hide! – If the terrain is available, the easiest option is just to hide it. If you can find a large piece of line of sight blocking terrain, put it there! This is the best way to keep it alive. Unfortunately, this is also the option that we tend to have no control over and it’s rare to find tables that will be that generous to us.
Threat Saturation – Simply presenting more threatening targets may force them to deal with the buff and try to kill your biggest threats anyway. If they only have enough firepower to bring down one or two monsters a turn, they may focus on your Exocrine or Swarmlord rather than risk facing them at full strength.
Catalyst – The Maleceptor can cast its own Catalyst with a strong chance of passing the test. Probably wouldn’t hurt to use it on itself if you know you need Encephalic Diffusion up.
There is no definitive answer to whether or not a Maleceptor is going to be worth the points. It really depends not only on your own army composition, but also on the army composition of your opponent as there are some weapons that just aren’t affected by -1 strength. On monsters, having an invulnerable save makes a bigger difference than reducing weapon strength by -1. If you run a swarm or face many Lascannons and Missile Launchers vs your monsters then a Maleceptor could be a very solid choice. Keeping an extra 2-3 gaunts and stealers alive every time a unit shoots at them will really add up. Still, you may be better off just spending the points and CP on more of what you want in the list.
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