Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bring Out Your Dead! Land Raider

This unit still exists, right?
Greetings Gentlereaders!

As school-work continues to be a serious time constraint, I haven't had the time to do much more road testing on the Tau, so I've had to put Coming Back from the Brink on hold for a while.  Until I can get back to it I'll be starting an off-and-on series I'm calling Bring Out Your Dead! to take a look at units that have been overlooked in the last year or so, either because of how they worked in fifth, or how they transitioned to sixth at first glance.  I'm going to try to rate these on the following scale: I Feel Happy!, Getting Better, and Stone Dead.

I don't think the ratings need much explanation, but I do think we can all have some fun looking at these units and calling them one way or the other.  Let's start with a unit that was Stone Dead during fifth, but I think is set for an improvement this edition.  Much more after the break.  Tl,dr: This sleeper is waking up.

We should know this unit inside out, but incase we don't, let's remember it has the highest armor value and most hull points in the game.  Its durability was not that impressive during fifth edition when meltaguns proliferated with the rush to mechanize.  Melta weapons are still just as deadly to these behemoths, and glancing hits from things like gauss and missiles are now threatening because of the hull point system.  Most armies' weapons have not changed in their viability against land raiders, but the environment they exist in has changed.

Missiles against a Land Raider
The ability to slag a tank in one shot has become relatively less valuable with the introduction of hull points.  For example, in fifth edition fire warriors could kill a rhino through glancing hits, but it would take three weapon destroyed or immobilized results.  To get those results, you would need about nine glancing hits, to get those you would need fifty-four hits and one hundred and eight shots.  With the hull point system, those same fire warriors only need three glances, eighteen hits and thirty six shots, so they are more capable, though still not great at killing light tanks.  This increase in the value of glancing hits against vehicles, the increased (if random) charge range of all units, and the removal of wargear-wound allocation have made meltaguns less valuable against light tanks, monstrous creatures and multi-wound infantry.  I believe there will be shift away from almost exclusive melta weapons toward long range anti-tank weapons in a combination of high quality and high volume with a small amount of melta if land raiders are prevalent.

So, what does this mean for the land raider?  Well, the land raider is immune to strength seven weapons and almost immune to strength eight as twenty-four hits are needed to kill.  Outside of railguns and lance weapons, the best non-melta weapon to kill land raiders are lascannons and the odds of those damaging a land raider at all are 2:1 against.  Ordinance blasts are more dangerous to vehicles than they used to be and most of those are threats to land raiders.  The advantage the land raider has over other vehicles is that it has both higher armor and a return threat to ordinance tanks that are in line of sight.  Besides leman russ tanks, most ordinance tanks are armor value twelve, which is pretty easy for lascannons to open up.  If these tanks hide, they lose accuracy.  If a strength nine ordinance shot lands on a land raider it has a 2/3 chance to damage the raider, the same each lascannon shot has of damaging the ordinance tank.  Demolisher cannon tanks have a 3/4 chance to damage the land raider, but must close the gap with the raider while withstanding the lascannon fire the raider can put out.

Melee combat has become more dangerous to vehicles of all types, but the only threats to land raiders besides power fists are meltabombs and monstrous creatures.  The land raider can hunt monstrous creatures well and meltabombs cannot be thrown so there is plenty of time for the rest of your army to try to kill the assault troops.  In almost all cases the power fist and meltabombs are carried by a sergeant, who can only use one and may opt for the meltabombs rather than the fist.  That choice can leave him vulnerable to challenges in combat, which your land raider's assault oriented passengers can exploit.  On the durability side, I think the land raider is improving based on shifts in what weapons opponents are bringing to kill tanks, but what can it do for you?

Original concept, do not copy
Well, besides staying alive and being a good mobile bunker, the land raider has usually had problems with its weaponry.  While the crusader pattern and redeemer pattern are honed to destroy light and heavy infantry at mid and short ranges respectively, the godhammer pattern has two twin-linked lascannons and a twin-linked heavy bolter.  In fifth all of these weapons counted as primary and moving the land raider meant you could only fire one, plus a second from the Power of the Machine Spirit rule.  In addition to being an assault vehicle, the land raider was a long-range anti-tank tank with an anti-infantry weapon.  These made the land raider seem confused and worthless compared to its anti-infantry variants.

Sixth edition has changed this somewhat.  Now all weapons can always be fired, but must be snap shot if they move too far.  The PotMS can allow one to fire at full ballistic skill and at a different target.  This is very useful especially when considering vehicles can now fire two weapons at full ballistic skill if they move at combat speed.  Now the land raider can fire at full effectiveness of all weapons against two targets, making the most of its varied weaponry.  While space marines have access to multiple fliers that are good dogfighters, the land raider can also chip while moving at full speed: its lascannons can snap shoot at fliers while its heavy bolter fires at infantry.  As Godfrey pointed out in his last article, armor penetration two weapons have an advantage against tanks compared to other weapons, but the lascanons also have the advantage of being able to inflict instant death on units like nobs and paladins.

Rolling Thunder
As a transport, the landraider has the same capacity as a rhino, but can also carry five terminators.  It is not as good as the other variants at facilitating assaults by terminators, but other marines carry grenades with them, so the lack of frag launchers is meaningless except in the case of terminators.  The land raider variants are the marines' only assault vehicles, which allows the contents more freedom to contest or secure objectives while being protected by the land raider.  The contents, especially if they are assault marines can protect the raider from melee threats by preemptively assaulting that threat.

A lot of the durability of the land raider is based on what weapons permeate your gaming environment, though I think we can expect a shift toward the more infantry heavy styles of armies.  These will either need to risk being assaulted by the contents of the land raider to melta it, or sit back and hope their lascannons have enough time or luck to kill it.    The land raider can provide plenty of protection for scoring units before they disembark to hold a point or can present a threat to infantry and tanks while it grinds its way across the battlefield so its contents can assault and contest a point.  Its versatility is finally able to be exploited while not entirely neglecting any aspect.

I think I'll say that this ranks at least a Getting Better if not an I Feel Happy! for its utility and increased durability in the changing metagame.  Some of you surely have these tanks sitting on your shelves and I think it's time to break them out for a game or two.  They might surprise you.  Any suggestions for the next unit on Bring Out Your Dead?

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


  1. Suggestions?

    1. The entirety of Chaos Space Marines (I keed, I keed)

    2. Burna Boyz

  2. The main problem I've seen is that they take a huge chunk of points away from the army, and they are not scoring nor denial.

    Also, you say the lascannon is the next best weapon. If I recall correctly, an assault cannon actually pulls just slightly ahead due to rate of fire and rending. A very small amount, but since the 6th ed meta supports assault cannons more, something to note.

  3. @Coyote, Burna boys will lead to me needing to get a hold of the codex, but I'll look into it.

    @Gravemind, You're absolutely right that they're neither scoring nor denial, but they are a great way to get scoring and denial units to point in an environment that is gearing toward anti-infantry (assumption).

    A single lascannon will be outclassed by an assault cannon most every time against vehicles and always against infantry. However, the raider's second shot from a second cannon (assuming it can see the same target) will cause the two lascannons to win out over the single assault cannon.

  4. The problem with the Assault cannon is that it only has half the rang of a lasscannon. This would effectively give the cannon upwards of two shots before the cannon could even fire. I know, I use both of them.

  5. Honestly, I feel that the Raider is still very solid a choice, in whatever flavor you like. The classic allows for some lascannons, and the other two allow for anti-infantry punch mated with assault launchers. You'll still primarily want to use these for transporting assault terminators, but even then, they do an extremely efficient job at it. I took one in 5th as part of my Vulkan phase and would probably be taking one now if not for other pursuits in various other codices.

  6. Sorry, I meant for damaging a land raider, an assault cannon beats a lascannon. I was just correcting this line "Outside of railguns and lance weapons, the best non-melta weapon to kill land raiders are lascannons"
    Damage output from a landraider, you are correct, two twin linked lascannons do the most damage to a single vehicle target.