Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bring Out Your Dead! Burna Boys

Greetings Gentlereaders,

By popular request I'm looking at one of the more interesting units in the ork codex that's waned, but has it waned justly?  Admittedly, I haven't seen orks in my local playgroup for about a year, as one of our players has taken up hunting, funded by sellin his army, and the other has moved to Dallas, TX.  So I ask leniency, as this is primarily going off theory and my own crack-pot ideas about orks.  I think the changes to sixth edition have on the whole helped orks and have especially helped burna boys become more versatile, and I love versatility.  Let's recall the rating system: I Feel Happy!, Getting Better, or Stone Dead.  Allons-y!

Alright, first thing we need to remember is that these guys are specialists and have a niche where they can shine but are only so so outside of their niche.  Burna boys are costed at a point less than a bolter marine and, wow, do they need to justify that cost in their offensive abilities.  These guys are standard ork boys that have a burna, a standard flamer that can be used as a power weapon (AP 3) if it had not been fired in the previous shooting phase or during overwatch.  You can choose to upgrade up to three burna boys per squad to mek boys who carry kustom mega blastas, which are better than they used to be.  Each custom mega blasta is a 24" strength eight armor penetration two single shot weapon.  Deciding whether or not to take mek boys will influence how you run the squad and may improve how they play or make the burnas useless.

There are some serious weakness of burnas, one of which is they do not have the option to purchase a dedicated transport.  So if they want to be protected from bolter fire they need to purchase a battlewagon or steal another unit's transport.  For their points and lack of delivery system, these guys should always be in a vehicle, preferably a battlewagon.  Since ork vehicles are open-topped all the burnas can fire out of the battlewagon or trukk.  If you can lay down fifteen templates on a target, there's a good chance that unit will be taking a lot of wounds, even if the templates only hit two models a piece, that should expect to kill five tactical marines.  So, we can say that burnas have high damage output on the offensive.

into the Shadow with teeth bared, screaming defiance with the last breath
Burnas also can defend themselves pretty well against assault units.  Their weapon skill alone means that most units can't hit them on a 3+.  Burnas can also put on a show during overwatch as each should average two hits with their burnas. That averages out to a marine taking an armor save, or 1.33 dead guardsmen equivalents for each burna.  Sure, their initiative two and strength three when charged means they won't be hurting much during the assault, mek they have a legitimate chance to deny the charge by killing models.  Their follow up round of shooting should be fearsome. With the success of flamers of tzeentch, I doubt people will want to charge burnas, which makes everyone happy.  These guys are equally killy if they overwatch you when you charge their ride.

So we understand how the burnas themselves are pretty good anti-infantry if they can reach the target, but what can they do against vehicles?  Well, I'm not sure how to quantify it, but it's a gamble.  You can get up to three kustom megablastas, which are decent strength and armor pen with an effective 30" range, but they aren't all gravy for their free swap.  Mek boys need to rely on their ballistic skill two, so only one of those boys can expect to hit each round.  Likewise, because of the Gets Hot! rule, you can expect one wound every other round.  With only an orky save, those wounds should kill most of the time they occur.  If you are confident in your rolls, these are some of the best anti-tank guns orks can get and I would recommend you take them for their killy-ness.

Like this, but on fire
The real value of mek boys is their protecty-ness with respect to their ride.  Like a big mek, mek boys have mek tools, which is essentially a servoharness for a techmarine, so each can restore a hull point, weapon or mobility on a 4+ each shooting phase.  Since the battlewagon can hold twenty, the burnas can be joined by the big mek and they can all try to repair the wagon each shooting phase.  With four rolls, that means you can expect to regenerate two hull points a turn on the four hull point battlewagon. There is a chance that all the rolls will fail, but it is a 1/16th chance.  With the big mek's kustom force field, you'r looking at a considerably durable deathstar unit.

The problem is that you're also looking at a very expensive death star.  The burnas should run you ten points more than a full boyz mob with klaw nob, and the battlewagon and big mek should about double that cost, bringing you into the range of terminators in a land raider.  The battlewagon is not a land raider, trading six points of total armor for permanent smoke while being open-topped with the accompanying benefits and costs.  Being elites, burnas cannot ever hold a point, which has become a bigger cost to taking the unit in sixth.  When you're trading a headquarters, heavy support and elite choice for two high-model count fearless troops choices, that's a tradeoff you really want to consider.

I can't say that burna boys are Stone Dead, honestly they were still decent in fifth edition.  They may have improved in a good few ways (hull point restoration, overwatch, etc.), but I don't know if I'll award them the first I Feel Happy! either.  I don't know if anyone can feel happy about their fifteen point cost per model, especially with only armor pen three if they choose to use their burnas as power weapons.  I think they can be solid specialists and  a frustrating target to kill, especially if your play group has moved to plasma weaponry.

Be wary of exploding orks and be ready to hear from Corvus about the state of marines with respect to other generalist units.  I'm not sure when this week he'll publish it, but I'm looking forward to reading it and I hope you are as well.

I'm Underground Heretic and I get to live with that every day!

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