Thursday, December 26, 2013
Honor the Codex: Pt. 8 Heavy Support
Devastators - Bad (Without rerolls)
Man oh man, if people thought I was too hard on Assault Marines and Speeders, I'm going to get reamed over this one. Because I'm pretty firmly convinced that Devastators are bad. First things first, I think that this is the only "heavy weapons team" in the entire game that has to buy its heavy weapons. This isn't all bad, in that it allows you to customize what the squad does, but it also means that the cost of these guys really adds up quickly. Past that, the ablative wounds you can buy to shield those expensive dudes are all but worthless when you consider that their bolters will all but completely ping off whatever target you might be hunting (and it had better be big to give them any hope of earning their points back). So, what's a marine to do? Buying the extra wounds means dudes bought just to die, and not buying them mean that your 30~ point big gun dudes die in short order. And then there's the issue of volume. Unless you bought the heavy bolters, each weapon probably only gets one shot. Yes, there's a signum in there to help tip you firmly into odds of hitting three of your shots, but every turn that you only land two, you'll curse your luck that you have such limited native access to any way to manipulate this. Finally, you'll roll to wound or penetrate armor, and the other guy will laugh and pass his cover save, or, a surprising amount of the time, you'll fail to wound or penetrate his armor. This then, is the heart of the problem with these guys. They just don't have the volume of dice or the power of rerolls on their side to reliably make their points back. Where do we get those? Without opening another book, we can play Imperial Fists, or bring Tigurius, or play Mantis Warriors. Imperial Fists isn't a bad option, and their tactics are easy to take advantage of. Tiggy lets us have relentless for a turn if we need to reposition. Mantis Warriors are from Forgeworld, and play allowance may vary. So, unless you're able to reroll those expensive shots, leave these guys in the box. They're still just too pricey to cut it. If we hadn't returned to the armory system and these guys paid about 5 points less per gun than what a tactical squad does, they'd become significantly better. But, alas, all weapons cost the same, no matter who brings them.
Devastator Centurions - Okay
Remember the problems with those guys up there? These solve almost all of them. They come with native rerolls, have wildly better durability (T5, 2W 2+? Yes please!), offer constant mobility for their impressive heavy firepower, start with heavy weapons, and can even get reasonably priced night vision and split fire.Why are these guys just okay? Because you will upgrade their twin linked heavy bolter and either bring the grav cannon with amp, or lascannon with missile launcher. This will seat the squad firmly in the ~300 point range. Which is painfully expensive. But Fists can get a lot out of them with the missile and las, and the grav weapons are vicious... if they get in range. In my opinion, the grav centurions will usually offer about as much threat for the same cost as Sternguard. They end whatever vehicle they look at, and will decimate everything that's not from codex Chaos Daemons. So, there you have it.
Thunderfire Cannon - Great
I'm going to ask you to stretch your minds for a moment, and remember back to the earlier article on the generic HQs. There was an option called a techmarine. He was okay. Well, if you double his cost, he brings a neat little piece of artillery with him, called the Thunderfire Cannon. What is it? What does it do? It shoots four multiple barrage small blasts with three separate ammunition types. The first, S6 AP5. The second, S5 AP6 ignores cover. The third, S4 AP- which forces victims into difficult terrain during their next movement phase. So, it's a durable source of barrage fire which provides reasonable horde control, and even the option to do a good enough job of forcing saves on larger models, or harass light vehicles. It does this potentially from out of LoS, or from within bolstered cover. Top it all off with the techmarine regaining IC and BotO when the cannon is slain. This is fantastic for just about any army out there and is a steal point for point as it offers a level of flexibility we've only seen with one other unit: Sternguard. The only complaint I might have is that is an expensive chunk of Finecrap.
Predator - Great
Whirlwind - Bad
So, this is short sweet and to the point. If you save a couple points on the TFC, you become a rhino chassis (ick) and shoot a single barrage large blast (which always scatters, ick) which is either a heavy bolter shot, or a bolter that ignores cover. Why would we take this when the TFC is so good (more durable, accurate, and versatile)? I don't know.
Vindicator - Bad
Hunter - Bad
So, we have a single shot plasma gun mounted on a 12/12/10, and it isn't even truly twin linked. Plus, it comes strapped with perma skyfire. If you need anti-air, bring the little bird and drown your foes in dice. Because though the bird costs twice as much, it's easily twice as flexible. Yes, you can use your single shot weapon on skimmers, but you'll probably only knock a hull point off a wave serpent (forbidding their jink), which really isn't enough for your cost. Against FMCs, you're wounding on about as many 2s as 3s, which is a little odd, but most of those will have another save to take against you (just like the drake). So, please please oh please do not take this tank. I'm begging you.
Stalker - Bad
On the Hunter chassis there's another tank, this one with a quad gun on its back. But it doesn't have interceptor. It's less flexible and less durable. Why would you take this in a valuable HS slot when the fortification slot can have an Aegis with quad? I really can't say. If it had interceptor, or toggle skyfire, that'd be another story, but alas, 'tis not to be. No, not even the novelty of split fire saves this guy.
Godhammer - Okay
Crusader & Redeemer - Bad
I debated breaking this into a separate section for each variant, but in the end, decided that talking about one of them involves too much talking about the other two in order to justify three paragraphs. First things first, you should probably only be reading about these guys if you wanted to bring a unit where I mentioned the Land Raider Tax. Why should that be the only reason to look at them? For starters, two variants are bad and the third has two twin linked lascannons with no out to tank hunters. The lascannon toting variant saves you a scant few points over a pair of predator annihilators, and offers little to justify that hike. If you're taking one, you'll have to utilize the carrying capacity to justify it.
Then we'll remember what we're bringing in it. Either dudes who strike at I1 (hammernators) or dudes with grenades (anything else). If they already have grenades, why pay to have your tank use grenades? If they're going to strike at I1 anyway, why bother? These are the first problems with the Crusader and the Redeemer. Their second problems are that their guns suck for completely different reasons. The Crusader has Hurricane Bolters. When was the last time that snap fire did much of anything (because you'll be primary firing the AssCan and Multi-Melta)? The Redeemer has Flamestorm cannons (S6 AP3 Templates). Why oh why would you want to burn down your charge range? Yes, each of these transports has more carrying capacity than the Godhammer, but that in and of its self is a bit of a trap, because it encourages spending too much in one place, especially when more than 5 hammernators are overkill anyway usually. The Godhammer gets a pass because it offers durable transport, even if at a steep price, all while giving you the better parts of a predator. Just remember, taking one means you'll be more inclined to play to the assault phase (because whee ramps) and that's something tricky to do at present, especially for a shooting focused codex.
Stormraven Gunship - Okay
And at long last we come to the final entry for the Heavy Support section: the Stormraven. Big Bird. And at the end of the day, it's alright. Box 12 is about the most durable flyer in the game (lack of invulnerable save notwithstanding), and the capacity is unparalleled. You can bring 12 guys and/or a dreadnought of any type, both of which have access to parachutes in your movement phase if the other guy has an answer to your flyer, or assault ramps if they didn't knock you down. Don't let the name deceive you. Though this is akin to a flying predator, the transport capacity on this guy is mostly amazing. Bringing a dreadnought is a bit of a trap (Ironclads want drop pods, remember), and the assault ramps are deceiving (boo stupid turn three assaults), but this does what the Vandetta does in terms of telling your opponent "Hey, there's a troops choice here scoring this objective and earning linebreaker, deal with them or lose". Add the whole "flying predator" notion to it since it has thunder hammer missiles mated with a twin linked lascannon, and either a twin linked multi melta or typhoon missile launcher (no, you don't buy the hurricanes or plasma cannons), and this guy is solid enough to warrant at least a look for those armies which want to include it, or for players who bought the model before the price hike. You've gotta play smart and kill your opponents answers to it if you want to see it really shine, but that's just one of the downsides for the volume of efficiency you get out of it. It's not for every list or player, but I'd encourage at least a playtest of one.
The Heavy Support section, despite being so heavy-laden with options, is so light on gems which are truly valuable to lists. Those which exist are superb, but they're fairly basic and straightforward. Nevertheless, utilizing the Heavy Support section is integral to solid list construction, and victory. We'll see you back here after the New Year to finish the "extra codex" options that are available to Marines in terms of Lords of War, Forgeworld options, and fortifications. See you here!