Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tank killing in the 41st Millenium: Space Marines Rolling Thunder

Hope you all had a good week, but now it's time for some mental stretching. First off I need to say that this idea isn't entirely mine. I read an article on YTTH back during their Ard Boyz gear up bonanza and have considered the army style and how it works. While the base is Stelek's I've done some tweaking. So lets dive into how to solve our problems with the much derided Codex: Space Marines.

Our first, and possibly biggest, threat is the standard APC. Whether it comes in the form of a Rhino, a Chimera or a xenos skimmer, these vehicles get infantry where they want to go faster. Getting your infantry where you want them is conducive to your plan to win the game. Deductively reasoning, allowing your opponent to get where they want to go is detrimental to your winning the game. So we need to kill these transports as soon as possible.

We've got a few basic options on how to do this: short range fire or long range fire. With short range fire we have meltaguns and plasma guns. Loki recently discussed the advantages and disadvantages of meltaguns and plasma guns, so I won't here. As a Tau player, I've found that stopping your enemy in their deployment zone gives you time to choose how to fight them and that choice is always an advantage. To do this we need to have long range firepower.

Our first candidate for long range vehicle kill is the classic devastator squad. As pictured, it's a horrible unit with no focus on either vehicle or infantry killing and a mix or ranges. Mixing in multimeltas and plasma cannons, while they have the strength to kill, means you won't have the range for all of your guns to come to bear early. Let's keep the squad small and weapon dense, four missile launchers: 160 points. You can upgrade a ML to a lascannon, but it costs more than another missile launcher, so I say strength eight is fine. But there are better for fewer points.
I present the Mortis pattern dreadnought, more colloquially known as the "rifleman dread." Bringing two twin-linked autocannons to the table for a measly 125 points, this dread sacrifices its CCW for some of the the most efficient anti-tank in the codex point for point. Each dread has approximately a seventy percent chance of immobilizing a rhino and a forty percent chance of immobilizing a chimera. At forty-eight inches of range, these dreads can stay out of the range of most anti-tank return fire. I'd recommend three of these, so 375 points off the top.

Now to fix the other problem we have, the vehicles that the rifleman dread can't touch: AV 14. While I said melta wasn't the end all vehicle killer, it is the best way to kill AV 14 vehicles, except for the monolith. But how can we bring the best platforms for these melta weapons, and while we're at it let's bring some troops to the table.
Pictured above: the classic 5th edition melta box. A squad of either marines or IG veterans with as many melta weapons as they can bring. Every Imperial army can do this, and generally does. But by bringing the same tools as your opponent, who wins comes down to who uses them better and who rolls better. Instead, lets bring a better tool to the table, albeit sacrificing some protection for more destrcutive potential.

First, the disadvantages of the melta box and why we need a better unit from the codex. The only troops choice that can bring a transport is the tactical squad. They can pack a meltagun, a combi-melta and a multimelta. Because of the inability of the multimelta to fire if the unit moves, it cannot fire if the transport moves or if the unit disembarks, so it can generlly be discounted in a mobile fight. That leave the meltagun and the combi-melta. To have a chance at the 2D6, the unit has to start the tun within 12" of the target. Not an unreasonable distance, but one that can be avoided or maneuvered around. For 220 points, the melta box is an expensive unit for what it does.
Instead, let's go with the bike squad. Able to bring two meltaguns at any squad size, a squad of five models can be a troops choice with the right headquarters choice. We need five models and start with three, so let's bring one more and attach an attack bike for an additional wound and a multimelta. Remember how I discounted the multimelta in the melta box squad? Well the problem that handicapped it is resolved through mounting it on a bike. This is because bikes are by nature Relentless. Along with Relentless, the bike platform gives the squad an extra six inches of movement and therefore threat range. While they can be targeted directly, unlike the melta box squad, the bike squads gain an extra point of toughness and the ability to turbo-boost and gain a three plus cover save.

This squad clocks in at 185 points, a full thirty-five points less than the melta box squad. If you bring one of these squads the difference in points can buy your captain his bike to allow the squad to be troops.

Bringing four bike squads, a captain on bike and three riflemen dreads totals to twelve melta weapons, six twin-linked auto cannons and four scoring units for 1250 points. That leaves you with plenty of room to bring additional units if you want more of anything. I would suggest either some anti-horde units and / or a master of the forge and three more dreadnoughts in your heavy support slots.

Until next time, what do you think?


  1. Don't forget the Vindicator has a nice anti-doesn't give a crap weapon. It kills you dead no matter what you are :D

  2. Auto cannons are an amazing weapon. They are in all my guard squads because they are cheap and they can tackle most anything with a little trouble. Plasma guns are kinda like mobile autocannos so that is why I like them (Ap2 doesn't hurt too).
    It's hard for me to critic this article too much because I do not know the options available to the vanilla codex.

  3. The "Rifleman" Dreadnaught name seems appropriate since it resembles the "Raider X" Destroid from Robotech which was later adapted as the "Rifleman" Battlemech from Battletech/MechWarrior. I'm glad people noticed the resemblance.

  4. While I praise the use of the Devastator teams, The Riflemen and bike squads are not my cup of tea.

    The Riflemen lack the power to deal with much more than a transport and can be dropped, in my opinion, with relative ease. Yes the bikes and Riflemen allow you to hate on 'mech, but as was discussed in "Hammertime", such a list lacks a unit that is dedicated to go forth and murdalize things, especially in close combat.

    If you want to hate 'mech with this list, I'd advocate Vulkan over a Master of the Forge, despite that the Master can ride a bike. The reason for this is Vulkan's rule which, in my opinion, is too good to ignore for the purposes of what this list is after.

    All in all, my biggest complaint is bikes in general. They just don't fit my style. They just, for whatever reason, don't feel "right" with me, but that is another matter altogether.

  5. Loki: The vindicator is a very strong anti-tank option, but with a blast weapon you're looking at only about a 50/50 that it will stay put, slightly more that it will still hit. To me it's more of an infantry killer than a vehicle killer.

    Darkwatch: I actually don't know who came up with the name, but I did enjoy Mechwarrior 3 the one time I played it.

    CS: Very understandable that the dreads and bikes aren't your cup of tea and they aren't a lot of people's idea of what a marine army should be. I made sure to leave as much room as I could open points wise to allow for a hammer unit like you were talking about. There should be enough room to get some more anti-tank (if you feel the need) and to get a command squad on bikes, maybe even upgrade the captain to the Khan if you want Furious Charge and Hit and Run on your command hammer.

    I'll admit that Vulkan is an amazing character and will be in my marine list when (or if) it ever sees the table. It won't be the best list, but it will make the army more versatile and that, to me, is symbolizes C:SM. What it symbolizes to you is probably different.

  6. While yes it's mathematically only a 50/50. It's competing against a usual model's BS 4 which says 66% chance of hitting. That being said, the 66% chance isn't a S10 with the Ordnance rule. So I think the Vindi is still up to par as it may not hit as often, but it is more likely to hit the table than any other weapon in the army (save one or two:P). That, and unlike many of the other weapons, the vindicator is equally scary to any army, and any unit rather than a alternatives which are more scary to one type over the other.

    As for saving points for a hammer unit, there are few to choose from in the standard marine codex. Honor Guard and Van guard are pretty nice.. .really nice actually. But the points as compared to what you'd spend on the Assault Termies in the codex are a bit different. Granted you will probably be buy a LR to go with the termies, so it may even out a bit... but the non-termie options have no invuln, making them weak to heavy weapons. All in all it leaves options, but I'd suggest if the Riffleman if your thing, take two, leaving you a nice little spot for those cheap termies :D

  7. The strength 10 armor penetration 2 shot is good, but it simply has a lower probability of hitting its target. The autocannons aren't nearly as strong or able to deny armor saves as often, but they do force your opponent to roll dice and that can be more deadly than fewer shots at lower armor penetration. I would argue that the autocannon is a better weapon against monstrous creatures because of it's ability to force multiple saving throws. Don't forget the autocannons are twin-linked so their probability of hitting is 88%, not 66%.

    Command Squads can have an invul, though they generally do not. Assault terminators are very nice, but they do have their own weaknesses, namely their standard mobility without their land raider. The raider will be targeted, even if only to slow the terminators down. Don't forget the ability of bikes to turbo-boost, granting them a three plus cover save.

  8. Another way to augment this force would be to toss in some Land Speeder squadrons, especially a Typhoon squadron.

    Or you could field an assault squad of some kind. I think keeping with this theme would be to use the command squad on bikes, geared for close combat. Alternately, you could put a couple teleport homers on your bike squad sergeants I think and keep some terminators in reserve.

    I'm also not a fan of rifleman dreads. I'm not scared of them and when I've used them they just didn't do much for me. They can kill transports or dreads, but not fast enough. They can't kill serious tanks and MEQs get an armor save. If I am going to keep a dreadnought in my backfield, I usually prefer to give it the lascannons. It's very expensive, but it always seems like I get much more from the unit.

    Just my 2 cents.

  9. Oh, and two questions. First does the attack bike count towards the five models needed to be a troop choice?

    Second, why 4 5 man squads instead of 2 8 man + 1 AB squads? You can split your full sized squads into a dedicated anti-tank unit and a more general unit that way? Which is cheaper? Which is better? It occurs to me if you are bumping against your max slots (like if you don't take a captain on a bike) you could use the full sized squad just so you don't take two slots, but in any other situation, would you want to?