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In game the Swarmlord is one of the most deadly and expensive HQs in the game. It can seriously buff his army (tactic: throw him in a corner, use a Hive Tyrant with hive commader to outflank 30 devilguants within 18 inches of this guy and use 'alien cunning' to give them preferred enemy, watch hilarity ensue) and kill almost anything in close combat packing high weapon skill instant death attacks. It is as vulnerable to anti-tank fire as any other Tyrant with only one extra wound and a basic tyrant armor save. He is more survivable in close combat thanks to a 4++ he gets from parrying attacks with his swords. There are only a couple HQ models outside Apocalypse capable of killing a Swarmlord in a challenge with a chance of or better than 50% - Primarchs, Draigo, Lysander, Abaddon and Skarbrand primarily, but also anything with a lot of high strength/AP attacks, anything that causes instant death or anyone that has Eternal Warrior. Give him a unit of [[Tyrant Guard]] and he's damn near unstoppable. If you have a friend who is a Blood Angels player who won't shut up about how powerful Mephiston is, just say "Swarmlord" and you instantly end/win any ensuing argument. Also it's hilarious.
Given the removal of the
parasite, the nerfs to walking hive tyrants (R.I.P armored shell), and the obscene overcosting of Primes, the general theory on why the Swarmlord and other Tyranid HQs was hit so hard is that GW wants to promote sales of Flyrants and Tyrant Guard which are not only big and expensive models, but big and expensive models you have to buy a lot of. Everyone already had walkrants, most people only ever get one swarmlord, and the prime is a rather small model by GW standards. Tyrant Guard weren't spectacularly buffed, but Flyrants are one of the clear winners of the new book.
The Swarmlord however, is likely going to be sitting this edition out unless a new FAQ, Dataslate, Supplement, or Forgeworld book allows Tyranids to roll on BRB powers, and maybe give him back his rerolls while they're at it. So ends a year and a half of true glory, replaced with bitter mediocrity and memories of godhood now lost.