Thursday, 6 February 2014

Reviewing the SM codex, Part 5: Fast Attack

Preface 

Okay, I lied. This, this here is the saddest entry in SM. Fast Attack makes the Elites look like they've got their shit together. That said, this is the stomping ground of the venerable Land Speeder, who takes his place at the top of the list in terms of scores, only because bikes are so much better as troops. 

Assault Squad 

Strengths
Cough.
Weaknesses
3+ save meant for close combat 
At most 4 attacks per man at S4AP-
No feasible means of anti-tank
No feasible means of anti MEQ/TEQ
No feasible means of getting into combat.
Builds
0 Assault Marines - 0 points. 
Okay, maybe a serious build
5 guys with a flamer in a razorback
dirty deeds done dirt cheap. Basically a tactical marine squad for rooting out a late game objective holder. Go home if they have a 3+ save. 
Chapter Tactics
Ravenguard, although any chapter tactics works - they're on the shelf anyway.

Price 5/10 Justifiability doesn't mean worthwhile.
Survivability 3/10 So awful that they never get shot at and thus, never die; an honorary 5/10 for this.
Damage output 2/10 These guys are giving Scout Marines a run for their money.
Rules 3/10 ATSKNF would be nice, if they could score
Mobility 6/10 Deepstriking would be invaluable on a troop. Unfortunately, this is not a troop.
Overall 3.8/10 Awful unit, but I can't in my right mind give it too bad a score. 

Space Marine Bike Squad 

Strengths
83 points for a 30" melta threat radius first turn? That's reasonable. Attack bikes do it better. 
Good source of cheap special weapons
Tough, for what it costs.
Weaknesses
Tiny Squad Size
You wouldn't really run more than one or two unless you were going bike squads.
Builds
3 bikers with meltaguns or flamers with white scars
Meltaguns give you a decent anti-tank bonus. Bikers with flamers can root out pathfinders exceptionally well
Chapter Tactics
Korsarro Khan's variation on White Scars

Price 7/10 Cheap as chips is what you pay for. 
Survivability 6/10 Not bad for a 3-man squad.
Damage output 8/10 This can be a major threat first turn without really being a loss when it dies. 
Rules 6/10 white scars or bust
Mobility 8/10 Not being troops makes this iteration of bikes less effective, but they're still good. 
Overall 7/10 Pretty damn good, even if they don't score.

Attack Bike 

Strengths
Tanky T5 with 2 wounds and a heavy weapon
Good range 
Good Suicide unit that takes a bit of firepower to bring down.
Weaknesses
Tiny unit size
Usually dies quickly
relatively expensive
the trick only works once.
Builds
3 attack bikes with multi-meltas - 165 pts
A bit more expensive than the other version, but more output and it can reach further. Definitely a good buy if you need to deal with a lot of armour quickly. 
Another interesting build to try is 
3 attack bikes with heavy bolters - not awfully effective at 135 pts, but sometimes all you want is a bit of extra mid-range shooting attacks. 
Chapter Tactics
White Scars, but this unit works okay with anything really. You want to outflank it but it can do being used as a mid-gam killer if you hide it well. 

Price 6/10 Price is reasonable, but not great.
Survivability 8/10 Hard to rub out.
Damage output 6/10 Reasonable.
Rules 5/10 I give them honorary Eternal warrior status
Mobility 6/10 Awe inspiring for such a bulky unit. 
Overall 6.2/10 Deece. 

Squad Scout Bike Squad 

Strengths
5 S6AP4 shots into the rear of a serpent sounds like nothing until you find it being useful midgame. 
Outflanking
reasonably hardy
Very cheap
Weaknesses
Scouts without scoring
Easy enough to kill with the right shooting.
Builds
3 bikers with 2 AGL - 64 pts 
Chapter Tactics
Everything bar white scars, since it's wasteful in WS. 

Price 8/10 Awesome.
Survivability 5/10 Not good, but not bad.
Damage output 6/10 Great, for their price.
Rules 6/10 Outflank is worth the BS3. 
Mobility 6/10 Outflanking is good on a unit with T5, even if it can't score.
Overall 6.2/10 They aren't an *excellent* choice, but they fill a nice niche if you have 60 or so points left over.

Storm Talon 

Strengths
Flyer
Decent output
BS5 against ground targets
Can double-up threat counts second turn.
Weaknesses
AV11, 2 hull points
Expensive
Builds
I wouldn't really run them any other way than with a TML for 145* - it's just a wasteful unit to not be at least capable against all flyers.

Dakkadakka's Deschenus Maximus runs them with the skyhammer, for 125 points. He finds that they're better against FMC who have a 3++, or a save worse than 3+. (so Daemons.)
If you want something that's arguably better against AV10 and unnoticably better against AV11, you might want to consider this build. But, I don't endorse it. 

Price 5(4)/10 Not really justified. if they had HP3, sure.
Ad. Price was incorrect. 
Survivability 3(2)/10 A joke
Ad. They are Invulnerable to bolters, something which landspeeders can't claim
Damage output 7/10 They make up for their Survivability here.
Rules 7/10 Awesome.
Mobility 7/10 Being able to fly on with another unit can be gold. 
Overall 5.6/10 Not the best, but not the worst flyer in the game.

* Thankyou to Deschenus Maximus of Dakkadakka for pointing out my mistake.

Land Speeder Squadron

Strengths
Decent output
Good against FMC
Fast enough when firing
can be very fast if you plan on firing at an FMC.
Weaknesses
AV10, 2 HP - made up in part by jink save.
Builds
3 with CML - 225 pts
they put out more missile launcher shots than a devastator team for roughly the same price. They sacrifice survivability for mobility and then gain back some survivability with their save.
3 with 2x HB - 180 pts
Not a strictly speaking excellent choice, but 18 S5AP4 shots will do, on average, a grounding test and .33 of a wound to a hive tyrant FMC.
3x 2x HB - 180 pts
The above, but as 3 seperate units. Much less survivable and a hindrance in both the scouring and kill points, but if you're likely to face lots of FMC, it could make it up by giving you on average, 3 grounding tests per turn. 
3 with 2x MM - 240 pts
Not an awful choice; it does the same thing as 2 attack bike squadrons for a 28% price reduction - of course, you'll overkill the unit you do hit and you can't move as fast with these guys.
3x 2x MM - 240 points.
Lets you target 3 different units, but shares problems that the 3x 2x HB unit has. 

Price 6/10 Reasonable, but not great.
Survivability 3(4)/10 Jink saves go some way to mitigating their weaknesses.
Ad. Math on AV10 with jinks doesn't make them as good as I felt they were, even in HP6 squads.
Damage output 9/10 Can rival and beat out devastator teams.
Ad. They're better than a devastator team against certain targets.
Rules 6/10 They have them, you just don't bother. 
Mobility 6(8)/10 They beat devastators at their own game.
Ad. Can't go quite as quickly as I thought they could.
Overall 6.0/10 Possibly one of the most personalisable units in SM, and that's pretty cool. 

This concludes my coverage of the Space Marine Fast Attack Slot, and I doubt that any of my beliefs are that surprising; we all know that SM fast attack is lacking, like most slots in this army book to the naked eye. Once you start to find the units you like though, the outlook becomes less bleak. 

Stay tuned next week for the next installment of... Yeah, this isn't a serial. We're doing Heavy supports sometime before the monday after the 11th.

Notes:

Ad. stands for changes made after the post was presented. This is where I've gone back and I've changed values because I'd misinterpreted rules or I'd made blatant mistakes, as is the case with stormtalon pricing.