Sunday, 2 February 2014

Reviewing the SM codex, Part 4: Elites

Preface

So, now we approach the fourth part of this little series, and most probably my saddest entry. Elites are a shamble in Space Marines, with the space marine's legendary unwillingness to be more customisable coming through. There is no Riptide here, and there is no definitively good unit in terms of output. But, you can always scrape together something.

Note

There's been some complaint about my ratings system, because they're not happy with my rating of one unit against another, I must point out that I never claimed that these ratings were indicative of the unit's abilities compared to other units in the same slot. While I do moderate my levels so they are consistent, certain units get extra or less points for the same rules, simply because they interact with the rule differently. 

You would complain if a car only carried two litres of peterol, but you don't complain that your lawn-mower does. You can't compare Tactical Marines Special rules to Crusader Squad's Special rules, because they do not interact the same way.

Finally, Vehicles receive no chapter tactics suggestions. Iron hands and white scars are the only ones that affect it anyway. Also, vehicles are quite capable of having no rules. IF this is the case, they will get a 5/10 because they aren't hindered by special rules either. 

Power Armoured 

These two are the power armoured veterans of the army, with options thrown in. Being relatively cheap with 2 attacks and nice enough rules; the former is a much-improved, much more flexible and customisable version of the lauded tactical marine squad, the latter is what assault marines are already. 

Sternguard Veterans 

Strengths
Special Issue Ammunition
Can get two special weapons
Can get combi weapons for every man
2 attacks, leadership 9
fairly cheap, at 25 points per model. 
Position as a scoring unit that is not fast attack or heavy support means that they're a safe unit for scoring during both big guns never tire and the scouring.
Weaknesses
Still a tactical marine, just a point extra of leadership and attacks.
nearly twice to almost three times the price of that tactical marine
Can get pricy, with combi-weapons
Combi-weapons are the most literal example of a "Blown load"
Builds
10 Sternguard with 4 Combi-gravs, 4 Combi-meltas, Meltagun and grav gun in a drop pod, 370 points. Weighing in at a hefty 33.5 points per model, these 10 sternguard are the very definition of an alpha strike. Need that land raider, manticore, bastion or vital enemy vehicle destroyed? The meltaguns can do it. Need a Wraithknight, hive tyrant, riptide or daemon prince downed? Call on those grav gunners. You can take out two vital targets in one go, and do it well. You have to ask whether or not 370-740 points is worth making the rest of the game safe for you
10 Sternguard with 4 combi-gravs, 4 combi-meltas, drop pod. 345 points. Slightly cheaper version of the above, to be run forward during kill points and defensively during scoring missions. This is how I run them.
5 sternguard with 5 combi-meltas, drop pod. 205 points.  An excellent alphastrike unit, with real throw-away potential. They get the drop on your opponent, and from there on are completely unthreatening. Assuming you've gotten first blood, your opponent probably won't bother. 
Chapter Tactics
Imperial Fists. Bolter drill might not be that great for them, but kantor makes them exceedingly useful. 'tis a shame they're not simply made troops, as then you could drop 110~240 points from your list and that's enough for another squad of sternguard. 
Failing in that, ultramarines could work. As could white scars if you want to outflank or scout with them. But why would you use anything but kantor with this unit? 

Price 7/10 They justify their 11 point price increase over tactical marines, but not enough to make their price that much better.
Survivability 4/10 They're more threatening than tactical marines. This makes them higher up on the shit list. They're no more survivable. 
Damage Output 7/10 Don't fuck with them - they wound wraithknights on a 2+. 
Rules 9/10 They're scoring, and special issue ammunition makes them extremely flexible, with hellfire rounds being statistically better on overwatch than bolters with re-roll 1's. They can take combi-weapons, which while not a rule, might as well be since it is a permission. 
Mobility 8/10 In drop pods, they get right where they need to be, quickly. They have the output to make them getting there worthwhile.
Overall 7/10 This is very much a tactical marines+ unit, and that's exactly what we needed in elites. 

Vanguard Veterans

Strengths 
Cheapish
2 attacks, LD9
Can get the weapons to be decent in assault.
Gets expensive when you put weapons on them
Weaknesses
Assault Marine+. They can't score, they can't benefit from Ultramarines tactics.
Builds
10 Vanguard Veterans with 4 Power Axes, jump packs. 280 points
They aren't going to do much, but it'll hurt a bit if they get into assault. It's a shame they can't assault off the deepstrike, or they would be gold. 
Chapter Tactics
Ravenguard, I guess.

Price 3/10 Not enough is good or effective about them to make 19-22 ppm worthwhile.
Survivability 3/10 Threatening enough to make it onto the shitlist, not effective enough to make them worthwhile.
Damage Output 3/10 Awful. They need a chaplain or something to make them good.
Rules 3/10 Heroic Intervention is a joke now. 
Mobility 1/10 They need to assault, but have no way to get the drop on their opponent.
Overall 2.6/10 If I've overlooked something, I apologise. I can just find no justification, except fluff for this unit. 

Terminator Armoured 

2+5++ was once the king of 40k, with so many armies scrambling for the most terminators in their army. One even succeeded, with paladins being one of the most powerful armies for a long time. Unfortunately, these marines are not nearly as good; moreover, who the hell takes paladins anymore?

Assault Terminators 

Strengths
Gods of assault, hard to knock down, and hard beat in terms of output. Their damage output rivals that of 3 devastators, but first you need to get them there.
Hardy, second only the paladins in the terminator armour races. 
Weaknesses
Overwatch, Hull Points on Land Raiders, and storm ravens not being reliable have all detracted from their usefulness. 
Builds
5 with 5 thunderhammers, land raider redeemer and Cassius or a chaplain. Best taken with a burning blade chapter master for I5 output. 465 points Plus characters. 
This unit still puts out a lot of hurt in assault. They ruin everything but wraithknights (including wraithknights with a chaplain and a single casualty only.)
Chapter Tactics
Ironhands, although just about anything works. They're hardy anyway. Ultramarines works well. 

Price 4/10 These guys were gods in fifth. They're hard to justify now.
Survivability 7/10 2 wounds would be nice, but they're still so hardy that it doesn't matter. You feel every loss.
Damage Output 9/10 Rivals 3 devastator teams.
Rules 5/10 nothing special.
Mobility 3/10 they really need a land raider. 
Overall 5.6/10 They're good, they just aren't great.

Tactical Terminators

Strengths
Still Terminators
Get 2 missiles per turn, as well as 10 boltguns. Makes for a relatively good anti-infantry shooting. 
Good overwatch output
Weaknesses
5++ only. 
Slow.
Builds
5 terminators with CML. Transport optional. 
Seriously a pretty good unit. Doesn't have the output that a devastator squad does, but it's nice. Put behind skyshield for best results.
10 terminators with 2 CML. Land Raider Redeemer, Chaplain, ADL Skyshield 710 + characters/Fort
Put 2 CML behind fortification for your firebase. They get a 2+3+4++5++ on the skyshield, which is admirable. Against everything but eldar and tau, combat squad the teams, putting the other 5 in the land raider and marching them over to your enemy as a counterpunch unit.
Chapter Tactics
Anything goes.

Price 3/10 40 points is not reasonable for terminators in 6th edition.
Survivability 4/10 Their price makes them a tough loss.
Damage Output 6/10 Decent. Can make up two separate elements of your army quite nicely. 
Rules 5/10 Nothing special.
Mobility 4/10 They can make use of deepstrikes.
Overall 4.2/10 They aren't great, but they aren't terrible either.

Dreadnoughts 

Dreadnoughts were kind of a big thing when I started 40k. I loved my first dreadnought to bits. So much so that I've been scavenging bits off of it ever since. Unfortunately, this doesn't make dreadnoughts good. Like most walkers, they suffer from having all the problems monsters do with none of the benefits, and excellent move to output ratios without the weaponry to make use of it. 

Standard 

Strengths
AV12/12/10 with 3 HP. 
Good range of long-range firepower
Cheap Firesupport
Weaknesses
No Combat ability
Hindered if you give it combat capabilities. 
AV12 isn't that hard when it's a threat. 
Builds
2x TLAC, 120 pts. The original, the best. 4 S7AP4 shots gives decent output, with 1 guaranteed hit. a hit with any army that wants long range firesupport, but I don't feel its worth it anymore.
TLLC and ML 135. Not quite as good, and overshadowed by the Stormtalon's output, but this dreadnought can still put out a bit of hurt. Worth it if you need more high-strength than anti-air. 

Price 7/10 Nice and cheap. 
Survivability 7/10 Decent.
Damage Output 6/10 Decent.
Rules  5/10 None whatsoever.
Mobility 4/10 6" moves hinder this vehicle's distance covering, but it does okay since it's always shooting.
Overall 5.8/10 Not the best walker on the market, but probably the best for Marines.

Venerable 

Strengths
AV12/12/10, 3 HP with a  2.7% chance of exploding against AP 3 to -, 11% chance of exploding against AP 2 and a 25% chance against AP1. 
Good Accurate range of long range firepower
Cheapish survivable firesupport
Weaknesses
Meh Combat ability
Hindered if you give it combat capabilities
AV12 isn't hard when it's a threat. 
Builds
IF you haven't realised, Venerable Dreads are the same as dreads with a rule, +1 WS and BS. Their builds are the same, they've just bought Venerable. 

Price 5/10 Still pretty cheap. 
Survivability 8/10 It'll take more than 1 lascannon to put baby down. 
Damage Output 7/10 Better than the standard. 
Rules 7/10 Venerable is good if you understand math.
Mobility 4/10 See: dreadnought
Overall 6.2/10 For a hefty price increase, dreadnoughts get better.

Ironclad

Strengths
AV13/13/10 with 3 HP
Good at close range.
Good in assault
Good at getting into assault, if it's not the primary threat
Weaknesses
Still a tank
Still dies to one lascannon.
Builds
Bare bones is fine. Throw on ironclad assault launchers if you've got points, and put it in a drop pod and you're set. (170-80 pts)

Price 5/10 Decent for the chassis and output. 
Survivability 8/10 AV13 is great in a world run by AV11/12.
Damage Output 5/10 It gets into assault. isn't that enough?
Rules 5/10 Nothing of Note.
Mobility 5/10 You want it near your enemy, it can do this. It needs to be shot at for a turn first, though.
Overall 5.6/10 Not too good, but not too bad either. 

Unique 

Legion of the Damned 

Strengths
3++ save.
2 attacks each
deepstrikes
decent at range and in combat, relentless.
Ignores Cover
Fear, which is nice.
Weaknesses
Dies even harder to boltguns.
Builds
5 with Combi-, multi- and meltagun. 155 pts. 
A decent deepstrike unit that's none too afraid of intercepting enemies. It'll get 3 Melta shots into an important target, then it'll take a bit of eradicating, meaning you have a turn with only half firepower being thrown your way. 

Price 6/10 Not good, but reasonable.
Survivability 7/10 Annoying to kill, but hurtful when they die. 
Damage Output 8/10 They'll only get one turn in, but it'll hurt. 
Rules 7/10 Nice. Fear will be overlooked until it helps you against a target without fearless or ATSKNF.
Mobility 7/10 They get there, even if they scatter.
Overall 7/10 Really nice unit, that's often overlooked. Don't let their price dissuade you; they're not as good as sternguard, but they're still worth a try.

Centurion Assault Squad

Strengths
T5, 2W with 2+. 
S9AP2 attacks
No negatives for charging through terrain, doesn't feel charges too bad.
Good weapons
Weaknesses
No invulnerable save, no way to get one. 
Not a veteran squad, making those assault drills a little wasteful. 
Expensive.
Builds
5 in a crusader with a chaplain, 1 with IAS, 4 with hurricane bolters. All take meltaguns. 575 pts + character
A good, solid assault unit that should get into assault against all but the tauiest of overwatchers. Once in assault, they'll dish out hurt against any monster not designed for combat, and will wrec tanks and infantry alike. Try to hide them in combats for your enemy's turn, because they'll feel it if they get fired on. 
Chapter Tactics
Iron hands, although ultramarines and salamanders also work here.

Price 2/10 Very hard to justify
Survivability 5/10 T5 is nice, but wasted without an invulnerable save. 
Damage Output 6/10 You can sniff at it. 
Rules 6/10 MTC is kinda nice, not very useful but it's there?
Mobility 3/10 They need a land raider, can't deepstrike.
Overall 4.4/10 Awful unit, but not the worst. 

Afterword


This concludes my coverage of the elites section of the Space Marine Codex. Tune in sometime before next monday for my coverage of the Fast Attack or Heavy Support Slot! 

No, I haven't decided whether I want a lot of depression or a lot of writing just yet.