Sunday, 19 January 2014

Reviewing the SM Codex, Part Two: Generic HQ options

Preface

You get the drill. I'll list off Strengths and weaknesses, and things to look out for, then give a score out of ten on 5 points, then  average that out to give you an idea of my opinion of the the slot at large. There's a catch here, of course. Since these characters are no longer forced to take certain chapter tactics, I'll list off my personal preferences for each, as well as ways to kit them out to suit.

Chapter Master 


Strengths
4 wounds and attacks
Can be kitted out to deal with most threats, or as a lynchpin.
Can be made eternal.
Weaknesses
Nothing to make his BS5 seem worthwhile.
Combat's not the place to be much anymore.
Builds
1. Watch this guy inflict untold casualties upon the meek with a power fist and the Teeth of terra. 6 attacks on the charge, and more still if he has to charge on his own or with a small squad of say, centurions. Put him on a bike with a squad of five bikers for last-minute scoring hijinks.
Taken most effectively with white scars (Bikes) or with iron hands, but can work with most armies that need a bit of combat oomph.
2. This chapter master will wield his shiny sword much better than kharn ever could, smashing it out with up to 6 plasma gun shots in close combat, with the blind rule and a small chance to take a wound for using such an awesome weapon. Buy him a bike.
Since he makes for a good champion-type character, he might work in a black templars ally (an ally, nothing more) with a squad of honour guard, or again, on a bike. Find the enemy warlord and challenge him. IF things go well, you'll garner warlord while giving up nothing in return, at worst you've wasted 200-ish points. Again, Iron Fists come to mind, as do Ultramarines.
This guy does not make a good warlord.
3. Alternatively, find a build from the internet. It's really not that hard.

Things to Watch
1. Can shrug off as many as 24 lascannons before succumbing to wounds. He's unlikely to die except against the swarmlord or any other particularly impressive character. Unforutunately, the guy who does this is bulky or expensive, and has a storm shield.
2. Can hold his own against most enemy warlords or champions. Don't be afraid to let him throw his weight around against anything but the killiest of enemy characters. He stands a good cchance.


Price 8/10 Few of the upgrades on a chaptermaster are overpriced, and with orbital bombardment apparently being worth 25 points, if the old codex is anything to go by, the extra wound and attack is a nice touch for 5 points. 
Survivability 10/10 Potentially the Best HQ choice in terms of survivability.
Damage Output 8/10 Better than a captain. 
Rules 6/10 Nothing Special. Orbital bombardment can be nice.
Army Bonuses 6/10 Fire Soak, can make bikes troops, Warlord traits can be nice.
Overall 7.6/10


First Company Captain and Company Captain

These are uniformly the same as the Chapter master, but are "cheaper" for the cost of one wound and an attack. I wouldn't bother unless you need the points and aren't taking an honour guard unit.

The marine captain offers a cheap(ish) pair of combi-weapons, costing you about 110 points to give you a situational edge in a sternguard list. It's preferable to use a captain here since the extra wound and attack are wasted on a character not designed for combat. Probably a good warlord if you use your sternguard defensively, but not kantor. (Imperial fists come to mind, with kantor)

the captain shines in a biker army, where his combi-gravs augment the firepower of a great unit, and provide it with some survivability. 


Librarian 

Strengths 
Cheapest HQ, Psyker.
Cheap Power Weapon
Can get a Heavy Flamer or a S4AP2 4-shot weapon for free, or can go for other more useful powers. 
Weaknesses
2 wounds, no invulnerable save.
Generating more psychic powers is costly.
Expensive to defend.
Builds
I wouldn't take him anything other than bare, given his power-weapon and low survivability. I would also make sure he is not your warlord.

Things to Watch
1. Given the right powers, a marine libby can be a very useful buff for an army, even if that buff just means adding some dice when you roll to hit. He's nothing special, but he's better than a captain.
2. Makes an excellent addition to any assault unit that needs a body or two, with potential access to a unit-wide cover save. He could make a good distraction for a ravenguard shrike squad, not that I'd recommend it.
Price 10/10 Cheapest HQ if you aren't looking for a killer.
Survivability 1/10 Impossibly fragile for an HQ choice and potential warlord.
Damage output 7/10 Surprisingly can do quite a bit of damage in assault and at short ranges.
Rules 6/10 A Psyker with no access to ML 3 or 4. 
Army Bonuses 6/10 A Psyker with no Access to ML 3 or 4.
Overall 6/10 - Still worth it if points are needed elsewhere and/or your army doesn't need a tanky chapter master.

Chaplain 

Strengths
S6AP4 attacks in combat
Re-rolls hits on first round of combat for him and squad
Fearless for his squad
Weaknesses
2 wounds, 2 attacks.
Builds 
Like his Libby bretheren, perfectly fine skin-bare. Maybe give him a jump pack if the situation insists, or a power fists if you'd rather 2 S8AP2 attacks to 3 S6AP4 ones.
Things to Watch
1. He can safely be assumed to augment any assault squad to a level where it will always do at least a little bit of damage. The more attacks the unit can put out, the more he helps. Excellent as an augment for honour guard.

Price 7/10 Same Price as a Captain, but adds so much more. 
Survivability 6/10 2 wounds with a 4+ invulnerable save is decent, I guess.
Damage Output 7/10 A couple S6 attacks.
Rules 8/10 For his price, he offers a lot.
Army Bonuses 8/10 Fearless for an important unit can make an army.
Overall 7.2/10


Master of the Forge


Strengths
BS 5 can be useful.
Servo Harness can make him effective at protecting armour like a land raider.
Servo Harness gives a range of useful tools.
Can get a surprisingly large number of S8AP2 attacks, for a surprisingly low price.
Weaknesses
No Invulnerable Save and no reasonable way to get it.
2 wounds means the Shield Eternal is a waste of time. 
Builds
Bare in a Land Raider or Storm Raven, with a unit of 2 Servitors ensures that the MotF can be almost indestructible (unless your opponent brings a humongous amount of fire to bear in one turn). This build works with anything, but is most effective Iron hands for obvious reasons. If you stick the Shield Eternal on this guy, there's no chance of him dying from from crash-landing. For 310-90 points, you've ensured your opponent will not get warlord unless he's willing to put all of his fire into one target.

Another way to run him is with a Power Fist and a Lightning Claw. He puts out 6 S8AP2 attacks on the charge, costing only 130 points (the same price as a Chapter Master.) and still has a flamer and plasma pistol. This can add a devastating effect to the damage output of strong assault units like honour guard, and can be further augmented by Kantor (Everything is better with juan of him) - did I mention that he can still have two S8AP2 attacks if he goes S4AP3 with shred? this can be huge - you can pile in twice, since your initiative comes up twice, and you can potentially contest an objective late game this way. This Works well with Crimson Fists (Kantor), Iron Hands, heck, any chapter where Honour Guard and good times are found.
Things to Watch
1. Watch him be the thing your opponent becomes afraid of by turn 4.
2. Watch them aim for him over kantor, your warlord.
3. With Kantor and the MoTF, you put out a minimum of 11 S8AP2 attacks on the charge - this rivals 4 Death Company with Power fists, while being easier to protect. 

Price - 6/10 I wouldn't say he's worth his 90 point price tag, but he can be a competitive option.
Survivability Normally, 3/10 as he's hard to justify in this regard, but he's passable thanks to his 2+ armour.
In a Storm Raven he's definitely a 10/10. 
Damage Output 8/10 - For a guy who shouldn't be getting into combat, he hurts.
Rules 7/10 Blessing of Omnissah is pretty awesome, as is bolster defences.
Army Bonuses 6/10 Bolster Defences can make mid-game terrain for you much more effective.
Overall 6/10


Techmarine

The Techmarine is a watered down clone of the above. He can do the same thing, while being 15 points cheaper, costing you but a wound and an attack. Oh! Another thing is he isn't an HQ, so you can have up to two of them, while taking a pair of HQs. This can be massive, creating the ultimate in Marine Death Stars - 10 Honour Guard, a chaplain, kantor and 2 techmarines - comes to 885 without a land raider and puts out... 25 Power Weapon Attacks, 21 S6AP3/4 attacks and 17 S8AP2 attacks, all with re-rolls to hit. 

Of course, you'd never take that. But, if you did, You'd have one solid assault and you'd love it. Still, the techmarine is an excellent buff to assault. Also, cover save bonuses. 


Price 8/10 - Well worth its free HQ slot. 
Survivability 2/10 Still more survivable against S8AP3 than a librarian. 
Damage Output 8/10 I'm going to put it on par with the Forge Master because of the price difference.
Rules 6/10 - slightly weaker blessing of the omnissah. Can still pull off the same shenanigans. 
Army Bonuses 6/10 the Same as Master. 
Overall 6/10


Honour Guard  


Strengths
2+ saves with Ld10 and 2 attacks make for a very effective assault unit.
Power Weapons, boltguns and bolt pistols in artificer armour for 25 points.
Weaknesses
No Invulnerable Saves or FNP.
Squads can get pricy
No Dedicated Land Raiders (meh)
Hard to get into assault without casualties.
Builds
9-10 sternguard with power weapons to suit Relic Blades are nice if you really need AP3 over 4.
None of the chapter tactics really help this unit that much. I guess Imperial fists does so the most, with Salamanders and Raven Guard bringing up the rear.
Things to Watch
This unit chew up almost any other assault unit, Orks, Termagants, it even has a decent chance against genestealers in a vacuum. 
Price 9/10 Very decent.
Survivability 8/10 An Invulnerable save would be nice (even a 6+.) but you can't complain. FNP would also be nice.
Damage Output 7/10 What did the Mammoth Tanks in Command and Conquer 3 say? "Unrivaled." They have Rivals, but none are so capable outside a vacuum. 
Rules 6/10 The Chapter Champion's power can suck. 
Army Bonuses 6/10 can act as a firesoak if your opponent is afraid of assault, and a good answer if he is not. 
Overall 7.2/10


Company Command


Strengths
Massive points reduction
Cheap Special Weapons Squad
Can get FNP or 5 special weapons
Champion is not force on you.
Can be on bikes, with combat weapons and special weapons, and still be reasonably priced. 
Weaknesses
None to speak of. Size, maybe? But b8ke squads are like that anyway.
Builds
4/5 grav guns (4 has apothecary) on bikes with a captain or techmarine with 2 combi-gravs on a bike gives the user 12 (15 twice per game) Grav attacks with a 30" threat radius and FNP or the same with 15/18 but no FNP. Go White scars and you can threaten everything within 30". You can take a drop pod despite the being on bikes thing too. This costs 210, 335 with the captain. 
Things to Watch
1. With Prescience/guide up, this unit does 5.93 wounds to a riptide per turn. Without Prescience up, it does 4.5 wounds. If you go first with Kor'sarro Khan, you have a first-turn threat radius of 42", but your wounds against a riptide drop to 3.78. Did I mention how it kills a riptide outright, even with Khan?
2. Two units of these, one with Khan, one with a normal captain, then two tech marines in two marine squads gives you 4 different squads that do at least 15 grav-gun shots to a target. This can be a complete counter to the much-coveted four-riptides if you go first, and shuts down wraithknights and is effective against most armour - including wave serpents, who's serpent shields are useless against you. You also get a cover save against everything but Tau. 

Price 10/10 Fantastic.
Survivability 7/10 An Invuln would be nice, but T5 with a jink save makes up for this to a degree.
Damage Output 10/10 Only beaten by centurion devastators. Oh, but two of these puts out the same and costs 140 points less. Did I mention how much faster it is?
Rules 7/10 Nothing of note unless you use kor'sarro Khan, but the whole 5 special weapons is pretty neat. Feel no pain is useful, even if it detracts from power output.
Army Bonuses 8/10 These make a great alpha strike unit and can remove your army's counters quickly (unfortunately, Pathfinders need the finesse of your biker squad's boltguns to be effective. Big shame, huh?) 
Overall 8.4 They went from overpriced but bearably so to reasonably priced and the best reason to take a captain.


Servitors


Strengths
Cheap, closest resemblance to ablative wounds in the game.
Cheap weapons, if you're into that.
Can make a tank invulnerable with a techmarine. 
Weaknesses
Meh at just about everything, doesn't actually do anything except make techmarines a little better.
They're a cheap unit that gives you added reliability in flyers, but are a quick kill point.
Things to Watch and the build
With a techmarine in a Storm Raven, for 40 points you get an automatic hullpoint back every shooting phase. With iron fists, you get 5 every 3 turns. This forces more firepower into your storm ravens. With 5 (50 points) you ensure your techmarine shouldn't die when the flyer crashes and your opponent has to put extra firepower into him or let him contest an objective on turn 5.
Remember to take at least two, or else your techmarine can't join them.

Price 10/10 cheapest unit in the codex.
Survivability 5/10 But you weren't taking them to be survivable themselves, right? They'll make a stormraven and your techmarine survivable.
Damage Output 5/10 Yeah I guess, but I'm not a fan.
Rules 7/10 just the kind it gives to your storm raven.
Army Bonuses 5/10 makes your storm raven even more of a fire soak.
Overall 6.4


Cenobyte Servitors

Strengths
a 6+ save is kinda cool, I guess? 
Weaknesses
Everything that is wrong about grimaldus, is transferred to cenobyte servitors. Also, Black templars only.
Builds
Only one option. take no more than 3 and hide them in a tank. 
Things to Watch
You remove your army from the board, because you took grimaldus.

Price 2/10 they themselves are pretty cheap, but grimaldus is far too expensive to make it worth it. Also, MUST I be forced to take 3?
Survivability 1/10 They're Servitors. They don't help Techmarines
Damage Output 1/10 Nothing of note
Rules 5/10 Eh. I guess a 6++ is kinda goood.
Army Bonuses 3/10 nope.
Overall 2.2/10

So you're starting to see the trend by now, For the most part te more shooting and the lower the cost, the better. That's the rule of 40k today. Cenobyte servitors would be a nice thing in fifth edition with this codex, but are hindered by grimaldus and black templars chapter tactics (and the fact that they only work with CT:BT)

If you want to argue with my picks, be sure to leave a comment. Don't forget to call me a prick.

Oh, and our wooden spoon is Cenobyte Servitors; our winner is the Company Command Squad for single-handedly making Captains a worthwhile take.

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