Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Don't dread the dreadnoughts


I have a love hate relationship with these guys. They look cool and are fun to take so what’s the problem? In almost every edition of the game they have had slim to no survivability.

With proliferation of drop pods in the previous marine codex they got better. Adding in the ‘drop pod assault rule’ they got a little worse again since you auto come in with half your squads at the start of the game. To make a drop pod list really work you have to cram your army full of pods and then bank on being successful with your reserve rolls.

Now the Blood Angels have introduced a whole new variety of Dreads that has me looking at them again – The Furioso Librarian Dreadnought.

For 150+ points or so – give or take for options (and even that is up for debate) you get an AV 13 walker with a p-hood and psychic powers that can it can use to buff itself in close combat, shoot things across the table, or even fly.

Even with all that I am still not convinced they are a good buy. The reasons all boil down to one thing: they can be killed with one shot. They are somewhat vulnerable to long, medium and short range fire. Even with AV 13 you are dealing with something that has to get close to the enemy to do much damage.

To avoid the pod issue I think you’ve got to incorporate these things into a partial or full mechanized list. I know mech lists are all the rage right now – because they work – but that is a different subject.

By in large dreadnoughts can hide behind rhinos and razorbacks, even if it requires a little bit of creative modeling. First turn you can basically protect them from long range enemy fire. You will also be out of range of most enemy p-hoods so you shouldn’t have much trouble getting your flight power off during your movement phase.

First turn you zoom zoom your fast rhinos 18 inches up and then fly/run the dreads behind them. You pop smoke on everything.

With a bit of luck you’re then prepped for a devastating next turn. This time you won’t be automatically outside of enemy p-hood range so try and keep that in mind before you settle on where you push your rhinos and dreads. Even if you aren’t able to get the flight off you’re still going to be close enough to do some damage.

Screaming out from behind those moving pieces of cover should be somewhere between 20 and 30 assault marines and a pair of close combat face wrecking dreadnoughts.

If you are dead set on taking the pod variant then I think you need to load up on at least four pods. This gives you the ability to ‘pace’ your own alpha strike force. If you are worried about the dreads getting whacked as soon as you bring them down then maybe you want to drop the assault/hg melta squads first to soften up some hard targets. If you are looking across the field and don’t see anything that will give your dreads too much of a hard time then you can save your troop choices to come down on turn two or three to support X or Y flank or maybe camp directly on an objective.

Before sinking 100+ bucks into dreads I definitely suggested play testing with some proxies. If you can fit them into your play style and can learn how to protect them and minimize your exposure to enemy fire with them they are super fun to play with.

Who doesn’t like giant robots wreaking havoc?


Blood Angel Honor Guard

The Honor Guard: Should we use them?

I love the concept of the Blood Angels honor guard. I used them back in 06 for my grand tournament list despite them being horribly over valued point wise. I just really liked the idea of my Sanguinary High Priest being surrounded by fanatical followers of the Primarch. I ran them around in a Land Raider Crusader and had them kitted out with a couple of power weapon/fists and a melta gun.

There are a few reasons why these didn’t jump out at me initially.

1) They aren’t scoring
2) You have to pay extra for their jump packs
3) They do not get a discount on transport options
4) Max squad size of five

With that said they do have a few advantages.

1) Access to more than two special weapons in each squad
2) Hidden Priest so he can’t be singled out in close combat or shooting
3) Relatively low base point cost for a model with two base attacks
4) Access to chapter banners (if you like that sort of thing)

After some play tests the advantages seem to out way the disadvantages. The access to the special weapons without sacrificing that much close combat power is nice. I think the best special weapon combo will be two flamers and two melta guns. This gives them the ability to soften up hard targets or horde style units before they make a combined assault with one of your regular assault squads.

Because this unit isn’t scoring you can get a little more ‘daring’ with it and throw it directly in the face of danger without sacrificing your ability to claim table quarters or objectives. The flip side of that being in kill point missions they are somewhat vulnerable to high powered weapons and you don’t want to just fling them out there to be overwhelmed. In that case I think the best option is to keep them behind your walls of 10 man assault squads or tucked neatly behind your Rhinos and Razorbacks only bringing them out to deliver a calculated finishing move on weakened enemy units.

The hidden priest is nice. You will want this unit close to the action at all times and it further helps extend your FNP and FC bubbles. The FNP also helps this 5 man squad be a lot more survivable. With some decent rolling you’re almost immune to small arms fire forcing your enemy to dedicate more of their high powered weapons at them. This is also an advantage because outside of guard most armies just don’t have enough of that sort of thing to put too much of a dent in your FNP troops.

For just over 200 points you’re looking at a fast moving squad with 4 special weapons, a power fist, and a hidden force multiplying priest. You can save a few points by putting them in a drop pod (which is also a decent way to deliver and include Corbulo in your list). To answer the question originally asked I say ‘Yes,’ we should be using the honor guard.

They are not perfect for every list but they are valuable and do serve a very good purpose in most missions you’ll see in tournaments. You end up basically only paying 125 (and some change) more points for the HG than you would be paying for a priest with a jump pack anyway. For the force multiplier insurance I think it is definitely worth it.

Side note:

From a modeling point of view the honor guard is an excellent excuse to kit bash and convert. These guys should really look like the best of the best of your army. Break out all the bits you’ve been saving in your boxes just waiting for the perfect occasion. The new Sanguinary Guard and Death Company boxes provide a vast amount of bits for just this sort of thing. Get Cracking!