Malcador Heavy Tank
The Malcador Heavy Tank is an ancient pattern of heavy tank, dating to the Age of Strife (presumably it had some other designation before Malcador the Sigillite came around and they re-named it for him). Like the Macharius Heavy Tank, it resembles an oversized Leman Russ Battle Tank, but while the Macharius resembles a Russ that has been cut and extended in the middle, the Malcador looks like someone at Forge World made a Russ out of silly putty and stretched it.
The Malcador was mass-produced for the Imperial Army during the Great Crusade, where it distinguished itself from other tanks by its speed. Some of the Legions also took it into service to support their Fellblades and Typhons. Unfortunately, its drive was always temperamental at best, and between the loss of knowledge that occurred during the Horus Heresy and ten thousand years of repair and attempted retrofitting, the Malcador of the 41st Millennium is no faster than any other tank and prone to engine malfunction, represented in-game as a fifty-fifty chance of being completely immobilized rather than slowed down by engine damage. In the grim, dark future, a static tank is a dead tank, and so it has since been superseded by the more reliable and cheaper Leman Russ Battle Tank.
That said, the tanks were never destroyed, merely stored (or "moth-balled", as the practice is also known in the real world), and even though their design is out-of-date and ill-understood, they are still made by M'khand and other Forge Worlds in limited quantities to fill the gap between demand for super-heavy tanks and the production of "proper" super-heavies like the Baneblade. Many armory worlds still have large stocks of Malcador tanks on hand in case they are needed for an urgent engagement, and they are still used by second-line forces such as garrison regiments and Planetary Defence Forces. This sometimes bites the Imperium in the rear; during the Siege of Vraks, Malcadors were withdrawn from storage and pressed into battle by the traitor forces.
The utility of Malcador tanks in the fluff (as they were used on Vraks) and questionably on the tabletop is as semi-mobile bunkers. Roll them into your fortified gun line, let their forward mounted weapon savage the enemy, and with Lady Luck and Admiral Awesome on your side, your Malcadors and any supporting forces will peel back to another fortified position before the enemy can dish out too much retaliation. In all honesty, though, the Malcador on the table top would need a notable buff in durability for this to be practical. *cough*Jeremy Vetock, are you listening?*cough*
That said, a line of them attacking an enemy position would be quite potent. Limit traversal in exchange for greatly increased turret protection is worth it in such a situation since your enemy would be in front of you without need to worry about flanks or rear. This is what the Imperium uses the Malcador for anyway (line-breaking).
As of 6th and 7th Edition however, the Malcador Heavy Tanks are now Superheavy Vehicles with 5 hull points, making them surprisingly tough. While not quite as indestructible as the famous Baneblade, they indeed fulfill their role nicely as a "Light Superheavy Tank". Because yes, 40k is that ridiculous of a setting to have tanks that can be put soundly into a category like that. As Superheavies, they are totally immune to the entire vehicle damage table. Additionally as a light super heavy they allow to use superheroes rules without your opponent wanting to strangle you for bringing a baneblade to a friendly game.
Like every other tank operated by the Imperium of Man, the Malcador comes in many flavors:
Malcador Heavy Tank
The original stretched Russ, except it has weaker front and side armor than the Russ and its turret can't spin all the way around. To be fair, during the Great Crusade it was armored enough that anything worth shooting would be within its firing arc anyway. Ambushes by lesser threats than it was meant to fight could be ignored by it, so the lack of a turret became an asset as the armored cover would protect the gun mechanisms from heavy enemy fire. It was a line-breaker after all, not an MBT. The Malcador Assault Tank is a truly ancient design dating all the way back to even the wars that consumed Terra during the Age of Strife, if anything it can be considered as the Papalith of Imperial Tanks. It used to be quite good during the Horus Heresy, as its advanced engine made it Fast, and it could mount a Demolisher Cannon and fire its main cannon at full BS and make a Flat Out move. By the time of the 41st Millennium, however, the Adeptus Mechanicus have lost all knowledge of how the engine works so they get extra finickiness while moving the same speed as every other tank. The only advantages that this tank has are that its rear armor is slightly better and that it can soak a few more hits since it's a heavy tank.
As you may realize, the Malcador seem to suffer the most in terms of getting the short end of the stick. And suspicious of the Mechanicum “forgetting” how the engines work on the primary tank used by the Imperium and probably mostly built on Imperial, not Mechanicum, worlds. It’d be like forgetting how to maintain the Leman Russ. Imperium-wide. Other then the numerous problems as listed above, there is also the consideration on how much this tank gets treated in-universe as well. The Malcador was seen as so outdated it was eventually replaced in Legion service by the Land Raider Proteus, and by the time of the Horus Heresy many Malcador tanks had been relegated to the Legions' strategic reserves and second-line Imperial Army units, only to be replaced by larger numbers of smaller, more tactically flexible tanks such as the Leman Russ and its many variants. Poor bastard can't catch a break.
In game terms, it really does deserve to have its front and side armour buffed to be on par with the Leman Russ Battle Tank. Its only redeeming quality is that its more survivable thanks to being a super heavy vehicle, though all of its positives end there. Its sponson weapons angles are dreadful, its main gun has limited traverse, it actually has worse armour values than the Leman Russ (as said before), its overpriced for what it brings, and it has the chance to immobilize itself whenever it moves, which if nothing else is crunch that pretty accurately matches the fluff.
Of course, the current rendition of it sets the Malcador's unit type as "Superheavy, Fast Tank", which is hilariously oxymoronic. 7th Edition changed the Superheavy Type to automatically include all of the more specialized rules like Invincible Behemoth, and added default rules for them that didn't require apocalypse. All of this means that the Malcador became immune to all forms of penetrations except for 'Explodes!', gained the ability to Thunderblitz, and move a full 12" while still firing ALL of its weapons.
Ironically, if one was to replace the top casemate with an actual turret (like the one on the Russ), use the alternate box sponsons the Valdor and Infernus use and fix the engine, the Malcador would become a perfectly serviceable Heavy Tank for the Guard, becoming the Tiger to the Russes Panther. But that would be tech-heresy and also regular heresy, because not being retarded is banned in the Munitorum. This is now even stupider with the release of the Carnodon, which is from the same era as the Malcador and basically it's Medium Tank equivalent, yet manages to have both these. Although, the casemate would help protect from flanking strikes and also help in frontal assaults. Which is the role it explicitly filled.
Like the Predator variant of the same name, the Malcador Annihilator has a set of twin-linked Lascannons in its turret, though unlike the Predator, these cannons can only turn 30 degrees to either side which would later come and bite it in the ass as its immobile main turret can also prove to be a problem in a chaotic engagement where the lines of battle interpenetrate and the foe's infantry or armor units can take advantage of the Malcador's limited firing arc. Oh yeah, it also mounts a Demolisher Cannon in its forward hull.
There isn’t a strong defense for the armored casemate for the annihilator except in tight urban conditions in which only a moron wouldn’t have infantry protecting it’s flanks and rear and when assaulting a defensive position or one flanked by other defensive positions. Basically, any time having a turret would be pointless or vulnerable instead of a flexible asset. The Malcador is a line-breaker, i.e. it’s what brutally forces the battle line interpenetration mentioned above. The annihilator, however, has a main gun that needs mobility to be useful as enemy armor isn’t going to sit still and get shot. If it were an exterminator variant (twin-linked rapid firing autocannons) then the limited traversal would be harmless as it would still fulfill the line-breaking function but using the autocannons to suppress the enemy and destroy anti-armor newts while getting close for the demolished cannon to lay waste. But here, God only knows why, is there no exterminator variant of the Malcador. Instead, the tank duelling variant reliant on mobility and a proper turret receives a variant. Great job, GW, truly outstanding.
The Malcador tank could also be outfitted with a variety of upgrades and attachments, such as Camouflage Netting, Extra Armour Plating, an improved communications system, a Hunter-Killer Missile Launcher, a mine sweeper, a pintle-mounted Heavy Stubber, rough terrain modifications, track guards, a Searchlight, and Smoke Launchers.
The Malcador Annihilator was originally conceived as a field modification carried out on battle-damaged or unfinished production hulls intended to "up-gun" the tank's weaponry and extend its battlefield utility. The pattern's detractors hold that the variant is a hybrid intended to carry out two roles, neither of which it can fulfill with any real ability. The tank is simply too slow and too large to serve as a true "tank hunter" but is not large enough or heavily armed enough (due to the limited supply of shells for its Demolisher Cannon) to be matched against a true super-heavy tank like an Imperial Baneblade in open combat.
Additionally, the Malcador Annihilator also suffers the same fate as almost every other Malcador variant. Its fucking engine. As you already know, the Malcador's main engine plant, a thermic combustor design that is a variant for military use of a common pattern used in industrial and agricultural machinery across the human-settled galaxy, is underpowered in relation to the Malcador's sheer size and mass. This reduces its performance and provides very poor fuel efficiency. Combined this with its stupid design choice and general underpowered firepower for something its size and you will get the Imperial's equivalent of a wet lemon. Further exasperating its already shoddy military performance. Still, against other, more conventional armored vehicles when it is part of a larger offensive force, the Malcador Annihilator can still prove its worth in the hands of a skilled crew.
This is, literally, a blatant rip of the French Char B1 heavy tank, though the B1 had an actual turret.
Recognizing that the mostly-fixed-forward turret was a problem, the Adeptus Mechanicus thought up the Malcador Defender. The turret was given five heavy bolters, each of which covers a roughly 90-degree arc, so the tank can shoot at least one and up to two heavy bolters at anything in any direction (in addition to the sponson weapons--lascannons, heavy stubbers, heavy flamers or autocannons). For anti-armor, they kept the hull-mounted Demolisher Cannon. These tanks were used to horrifying effect to defend breaches in the heretical lines during the Siege of Vraks. Due to this, the Malcador Defender is arguably (And ironically) the most effective of the Malcador tank variants. It is more common in many Imperial armories than the standard heavy tank upon which it is based. *Cue G.I. Joe theme*
Basically, this tank puts the “tank” in “tank”. When you hear the word “tank” think of this baby. It’s a tank-tank.
Due to the nature of its armaments, it is well-suited to close-quarters combat, trench warfare and urban warfare engagements. In this role, the Defender's Demolisher Cannon can be used against well-fortified positions and enemy strong-points, while its multiple Heavy Bolters can sweep areas for hidden infantry and defend the tank from a close assault. Although the Malcador Defender is very cramped, fitting a large crew of 8 into its tightly-packed and blazingly hot hull, it is as prone to engine problems as the other variants of the Malcador tank, and its battlefield role means that it seldom operates far from support or resupply. This can mitigate the design's inherent problems and its firepower and considerable protection can make it a valuable asset to Imperial forces for both offensive and defensive engagements.
The Malcador Defender can be outfitted with a variety of upgrades and attachments, such as Camouflage Netting, Extra Armour Plating, an improved communications system, a Hunter-Killer Missile Launcher, a mine sweeper, a pintle-mounted Heavy Stubber, rough terrain modifications, track guards, a Searchlight, and Smoke Launchers.
If their armor/hull was just a little thicker all the way around, imagine what they could do against Tyranids or footslogging Orks. With the 6th and 7th editions, maybe they can now. Given their fluff cheapness to mass produce (the Malcador and probably this variant and the annihilator, that is) and therefore it's common use in PDFs and the Tyranids coming...hmmm.
Since it's so dang cheap despite its size (likely due to lacking complex shit like a turret and inertia dampener for a too-big-for-the-turret cannon, so it's really just a metal frame with armored slaps nailed to it) the Imperial Guard should make much more use of it as an Infantry Tank. Emperor knows they could use it. Imagine if those heavy bolters were replaced with plasma cannons and the sponsons with assault cannons. Or autocannons on top and heavy flamers on the sides.
Much as the Annihilator is a OC of the Char B1, the Defender is an obvious rip-off of the Mark VIII. Due to this fact, it's rather surprising the Kriegers don't love them.
It's an Inferno Cannon taken from a Titan and mounted on a tank. The Malcador Infernus variant has been mostly replaced by the faster and more reliable Hellhound in front-line Imperial Guard regiments. When the tech-priests realized that they had run out of room for fuel tanks, they decided to put them in a trailer towed behind the tank (instead of mounting several smaller armored containers on the read of the tank). In retrospect, this was not one of their smarter designs though in their defense a few real world tank designers did this as well, though those designers were during the days most people didn’t know tanks existed, the AdMech exists after literally tens of millennia of tank warfare. Though it has a longer range and higher strength than the mini-Inferno Cannon used by the Hellhound (while on a more armored platform), it has the unreliable engine (compared to the Fast Hellhound), a hull-mounted primary weapon which is disastrously impractical especially for such a close range weapon and has a tendency to explode when catastrophically damaged.
Some Infernus tank crews will use corrosive chemicals as their ammunition instead of Promethium, turning the Malcador Infernus into an oversized Bane Wolf on steroids. The vehicle is also armed with two sponson-mounted weapons, one on each side. These weapons can be either Heavy Stubbers, Heavy Flamers, Heavy Bolters, Lascannons, or Autocannons. The Malcador Infernus tank can be outfitted with a variety of upgrades and attachments, such as Camouflage Netting, Extra Armour Plating, an improved communications system, a Hunter-Killer Missile Launcher, a pintle-mounted Heavy Stubber, rough terrain modifications, track guards, a Searchlight, and Smoke Launchers.
Immolating enemies is not the only thing the Infernus can do. The massive gout of flames launched from the Inferno Gun is also effective at clearing mines, the sudden heat detonating mine fuses and making large areas safe much quicker than alternative methods.
By the time of the Horus Heresy many Malcador tanks had been relegated to strategic reserves and second line Imperial Army units, replaced by newer and more powerful designs, although the demands of the galaxy-wide civil war soon brought them back into the fray, while their availability saw them used as test-beds for a variety of new variants designed to plug gaps in supply and resource. During the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras, the elite Solar Auxilia employed the Malcador Infernus in specialist reserves held at the Cohort level. They were generally deployed to lead advances against enemy forces occupying especially dense terrain, such as trench lines, city ruins or heavily forested areas.
Do note that this thing is cheese incarnate. You can even upgrade to chem munitions, an S3 AP2 Poisoned(2+) Armourbane hellstorm template that will cover those Terminators in a fine glaze of cheddar. With supreme luck you can even pen a Land Raider.
Minotaur Artillery Tank
The Minotaur is a rare self-propelled artillery piece used by the armed forces of the Imperium of Man that can trace its origins back to the Great Crusade and maybe even earlier. The Minotaur was designed as a forward deployment fire support vehicle, and this is proven by the Minotaur's outfitting with an unusual amount of heavy armor and the vehicle's extreme durability.
Some Tech-priest thought it would be a good idea to take a Malcador chassis (though it could be based on what appears to be an earlier variant, or the original chassis design) and mount two Earthshaker cannons on it. The cannons are so large that it had to be mounted backwards in order for the tank to remain balanced and not dig into the dirt (this happened in real life with the Archer tank destroyer). Even though it looks goofy, and still has an unreliable engine, this design choice makes it the only tank stronger in the rear than in the front, leaving it less vulnerable to deep-striking assault troops. That and the fact that it can deliver what amounts to a shot from a twin-linked basilisk point-blank. It probably would have been a better idea to put this configuration on a Macharius Heavy Tank instead, though.
When it needs to move again, it simply drives out forwards through the path it had already made for itself. The Minotaur's deck layout is also unusual, as everything from the engine and drive systems to the weapon and ammunition storage is spaced out evenly over the entire superstructure. The primary weapon system, a massive Twin-linked Earthshaker Cannon, is housed in a wide, centralized axis point, and features a complex hydraulic recoil suppression system. The centralized positioning of the weapon system allows the artillery piece to remain stable while firing its weapons even when positioned on difficult terrain.
The Minotaur is not armed with any other weapons but can be upgraded with a Pintle-mounted Heavy Stubber or a Storm Bolter. Despite this, Forge World has given it 2 Heavy Bolters in 8th Edition, likely because they just doubled the weapons of a Basilisk. I guess it has sponsons now?
During the 41st Millennium the Minotaur is a rare relic of war that very few will ever see, with the number of Forge Worlds capable of producing them having dropped steadily over the last millennia. With the steady replacement of this vehicle by the Basilisk, the Minotaur may soon become just another casualty of war. Although it is rumored like always that the Minotaur is stockpiled by those greedy fucks in the thousands inside of Departmento Munitorum storehouses, only specialized siege companies of the Imperial Guard will ever get to deploy their awesome firepower.
Valdor Tank Hunter
This variant was not named for Malcador, but for Constantin Valdor, Captain-General of the Adeptus Custodes during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy. The Valdor tank mounts a Neutron Laser that somehow causes an electromagnetic pulse in tanks it shoots (it's an electrolaser, although the EMP is an afterthought for an already powerful laser weapon), but also risks getting damaged by the feedback if it misses. Because there wasn't enough room in the tank to put shielding around the reactor that powers the laser, the tank is more prone to catastrophic damage and its crew is at an increased risk of getting cancer. Not that the Imperium cares about tank crews' health.
Initial production runs were channeled to the elite Solar Auxilia, in particular those cohorts operating against foes equipped with heavy tanks or in the case of the myriad xenos enemies still infesting the stars, tank analogues.
While not yet in common use (at that time), Imperial logisticians had projected that its services were likely to be required in ever greater numbers (Oh how they are wrong given the circumstance of the 41st Millennium), especially where Loyalist Solar Auxilia were called upon to fight the Traitor Legiones Astartes and the heavy armored vehicles they had ready access to. Ancient records found at the Scholastica Bellicose on the planet Mordia show that the Valdor Tank Hunter was most widely used during the Great Scouring after the Heresy, when the Imperium led the great counter-attack against the Traitor Legions, driving them all the way to the Eye of Terror.
Of all the variants, the Valdor is perhaps the rarest and most expensive of them all. As a result, they are rarely deployed amongst the Imperial Guard's armored regiments. The 1st Cadian Armored Regiment, which helped to defend the Imperial Fortress World of Cadia in the Cadian Gate, possesses a total of only 5 Valdor tanks. During the Siege of Vraks the 88th Siege Army's intelligence officers believed that there was no more than 30 Valdor tanks stored inside of Vraks Prime's vast Departmento Munitorum storehouses, and these tanks were not utilised by the Vraksian Traitor Militia until much later in that infamous meat grinder.
Dracosan Armoured Transport
A Heavy Troop Carrier built on the Malcador hull, the Dracosan was the foremost troop transport for the Imperial Army in the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. It was large enough to accommodate twenty troops, and heavily armored enough to protect them from intense enemy fire. Its protection was greater than the ubiquitous Rhino and it is equipped with either a powerful twin-linked lascannon or a mighty demolisher cannon at the expense of some of its transport capacity.
The Dracosan was a common sight in the 30th Millennium, being manufactured under contract by several dozen Forge Worlds across the Imperium to standards only usually required of war machines destined for service with the Legiones Astartes. A heavily armed and armored carrier, the Dracosan was large enough to accommodate a fully strength Solar Auxilia Infantry section of twenty auxiliaries, and heavily armored enough to protect them from all but the most intense of enemy fire. Being intended for service in hostile environments and even the void of space, the Dracosan needed to be absolutely air-tight as not to endanger the lives of its passengers and crew.
Equipped with a fearsome array of weapons of its own, the Dracosan could steadfastly defend itself against enemy counter-attack and pound enemy positions to dust before the auxiliaries disembarked to storm what remained of their objective. Given the necessary resources and expenditures to build such an exceptional vehicle, the Dracosan was employed almost exclusively by forces configured in the Solar Auxilia pattern, whether these "regular" Excertus Imperialis units or other forces following the same order of battle, such as the household troops of certain Rogue Traders Militant or, occasionally, the elite retainers of high status Imperial Commanders. Of course, since at the height of the Great Crusade about a fifth to fourth of the Imperial Army ground troops were Solar Auxilia...
Unfortunately, unlike most Malcador variants, the Mechanicus suddenly went full retard and forgot, for the most part, how to construct these things. Which is beyond retarded since the thing is obviously just a fucking Malcador without a turret, using the space saved for a troop bay. And it was built by dozens of Forge Worlds so...yeah, that's basically the same as forgetting how to build the Leman Russ. Not happening.
GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE! The Malcador is now actually somewhat good! Now occupying the Heavy Support slot instead of being a Lord of War (with the exception of the Valdor Tank Hunter and the Minotaur), Malcadors share most of the Leman Russ' stats, with the exception of a +6 bonus to Wounds and +1 Leadership (woo?). In addition, apparently Big Bobby G. reminded the AdMech how to fix the damned engines, so they move just fine now, and with the elimination of weapon facing, the clunky turret design is no longer an issue. However, they can not be taken in Squadrons and have Forge World's inferior version of Grinding Advance, which simply eliminates the BS penalty for firing the Demolisher cannon that the Annihilator and Defender carry. So while they still have certainly not dethroned the Leman Russ as the lord and master of Imperial armor, taking them is now actually a valid tactic, as a serviceable heavy to the Russ's medium.