Thursday, 15 December 2011

A look at: Codex marines - Fast Attack

Thought I'd fire up the next part of my opinions on codex marines, this time their fast attack fun.

Sadly overpriced and compete with terminators for the assault element of codex marine forces. If only they had jump packs included in price and you could remove them for a dedicated transport (Rhino/drop pod and maybe land raider IMO, razorbacks are too sit back mentality and not something I’d see racing forward for vanguards to jump out of) .

While 2 attacks base is nice along with options to kit them out with power weapon or thunder hammers etc, the cost rises and you can find a squad of 5 becoming more costly than 5 TH/SS termies... and also less survivable. Heck even a mixed termie squad can do what these guys can but better, cheaper and with more chance of survival. 3 LC / 2 TH/SS termies can counter both hordes and big guys while having 2+ armour saves and a 3++ for any heavy wounds. Heck even the lightning claws have a 5++ which is a third chance to live.

Again Vets seem to have two roles. Either in a land raider rushing out and multi-charging units with masses of power weapon attacks... or jump packing it around with the same sort of load out, but sadly their deep strike lets them down as it’s not as effective as when the blood angels version comes down only D6.

Marine Bike squad,
The first thing you should always add to a bike squad –always– is an attack bike. Compare it to two standard bikes: it can possibly suffer Instant Death (which is a threat to attack bike squadrons, but not to an attack bike within a bike squad as proper wound allocation will guarantee that the attack bike does not suffer hits from weapons able to inflict Instant Death), and it has one attack less on the charge, while it costs less and has far superior firepower, and can lose a wound without being reduced in effectiveness. Just like independent characters with power fists, single attack bikes or attack bike squadrons are vulnerable, but like a hidden power fist on a sergeant within a squad, an attack bike hidden in a bike squad is so good. It adds much needed additional range to bike squad firepower, anti-infantry with the heavy bolter or anti-tank with the multi-melta.

The thing is what makes bike squads more effective than tactical squads IMO are the upgrade special weapons. A bike squad should always be upgraded with two special weapons, because they enhance your bike squad’s effectiveness by much more than they increase its cost. Those upgrade weapons should be of the same type to maximize on specialization within your already flexible unit, so as to waste as little potential as possible at any task.

This is basically it. Anything on top of that is a bonus, and you should be sparse with those. An additional bike, or maybe two of them, is okay, but certainly not more. Bikes without upgrade weapons are nothing more than meat-shields for your important bikes, and you don’t need too many of those. Taking full bike squads is not a good idea, as those squads are far too big to handle effectively, or –if split into combat squads– too fragile and too ineffective because they lack the upgrade weapon density of five or six model bike squads.

If you have spare points, upgrading biker sergeants may not be a bad idea. Unfortunately, biker sergeants only have a bolt pistol to replace thus can only take a single upgrade weapon. This can either be a power sword or fist, though these are expensive on your bikes that shouldn’t see combat with anything they require power fists against, and often these upgrades just make you tie a combat with heavy losses which you would rather break from with combat tactics. Other possible upgrades include combi-weapons – either one matching the upgrade weapons of the squad or a combi-flamer, which can be a viable choice for any bike squad.

Flamer squads are clearly anti-infantry. Since they will be shooting weak targets, the bolters in there aren’t as useless as in other kinds of bike squads, and since they have to get close-up and personal to use their weapons, they are very likely to see close combat. For these reasons, flamer squads may by trend be a little larger, for example six or seven models, while this is by no means a necessity. The attack bike in flamer squads should keep the heavy bolter to suit the squad’s role best, while the sergeant –if upgraded at all– should receive either combi-flamer or power sword to fit the role of killing soft targets, but maybe even power fist if you insist.

Melta squads are clearly anti-tank (or can double as anti-MC). They will have to get close in order to shoot, but as far as assaults go, these bikes will probably only initiate ones against a vehicle they shot but failed to kill. You may get assaulted in return, but this will likely be a combat you don’t want to be in – unless your opponent plays in your favour. Thus, melta squads have a tendency to become suicide units, and for this reason they should be kept small to minimize the loss. Of course the attack bike’s main gun should be upgraded to a multi-melta, doubling the squad’s anti-tank range and maximizing its effect. Sergeants may be upgraded with either a combi-melta, combi-flamer, or a power fist for vehicle killing and self-defense.

Plasma squads are fire support. Plasma weapons are expensive and dangerous, but relentless plasma guns are very effective and have by far the greatest range among the upgrade weapons bike squads can choose from. They are also very flexible, able to deal with anything but the toughest vehicles: heavy infantry, monstrous creatures, light vehicles are all perfect targets. The attack bike should stick with the heavy bolter for mass output of the fire support squad, though the more expensive multi-melta is fine as well, shifting the squad’s focus by reducing its range and effectiveness against light and medium infantry, while increasing its effectiveness against heavy infantry and vehicles. Sergeants of plasma squads should be the last to get upgraded.

Attack bikes,
Usually a solid choice, especially when suicide-tank hunting with multi-meltas. These are compared to the MM/HF speeders with both having their own strengths and weaknesses which usually decide for the player which to bring. The attack bikes can hide fully behind rhinos and sneak forward out of sight of enemy guns racing forward 12 to pop a tank before assaulting the passengers if needed. But its flaw is that S3 weapons can harm it, as can S4 with some accuracy compared to the speeders AV10 which means they need 6’s to glance.

In terms of movement, the bikes can fly around the board 24 inches gaining a 3+ cover save, but cannot move over enemy models or terrain for late game contesting, and sadly they cannot turbo boost into or through terrain.

The dangerous terrain tests will also break your heart if you move them into terrain, but at least its only 1 wound not model destroyed for the attack bikes unlike the special weapon bikers or PF Sgts.

Land speeder,
Another staple of competitive marine lists, I’ve seen a few load outs and ran quite a few myself. The best being imo the heavy flamer/multimelta load out, it’s cheap, can pop tanks and is cheap enough to be a throw away unit which pops a land raider then dies, or burns up some infantry in cover. And with turbo boost they can stay alive for a long time if you roll well.

The next load out is with the missile launcher for a mobile long range gun platform which can jink around terrain and fire both the launcher and heavy bolter (or put on flamer in case enemies close in) and pop tanks. These excel as they are far back so the enemy either wastes anti tank guns on them or has to ignore them meaning more free missile shots.

The other combo I like is a squad of 3 (But this one is very limited in what it can do and which armies you can use it against) with two heavy bolters each... that’s a lovely 18 S5 BS4 shots from the squad... and if you take 3 full squads that’s 54 shots... very anti horde which I’ve found works well vs. nid hordes.

Land speeders are great late game contesters or fire and forget units if the situation calls for it. Never be afraid to fly them up and park right in front of land raiders to stop them moving forward in their movement phase. I’ve done it and if it works (They don’t ram you with that S5 hit, pen and explode you assuming a land raider) you’ve made that 70 point investment back with interest.

Land speeder storm,
Sadly not worth much in my eyes bar tricks like scouting forward dropping off a scout squad with some melta bombs etc and assaulting a tank for auto hits. The BS3 ruins the melta a lot and being open topped and AV 10 you can expect fireballs when shot at even by boltguns... And their special rules aren't that useful as if you're going to be using the locator beacon you know the enemy will focus fire them off the table.

For comp lists leave hem but for fun themed lists take them for quick moving troop carriers.

Scout bikers,
Handy lil units of 3 can infiltrate and taking first turn to scout move just outside 12inches of the enemy race in and pop tanks with a combi melta, some meltabombs and if wanted 2 grenade launchers. It’s a cheap one trick pony unit (Or is it?) which can ruin a couple of transport early i the game, then assault and hopefully tie up the troops inside making them waste turns not moving for objectives.

The threat of outflanking them also helps as you can make squads of 5 with a Pf Sgt, 2 grenade launchers appear next to enemy formations and wreck their movement, or have them turbo boost on deep in your enemies backfield taking objectives he thought were secure.

The reason I’m not calling them one trick is that you can also deploy them and turbo boost in the scout move to get your army a cover save by spacing them out 2inches and assuming a squad of 3, you can cover 10inches across making the units behind get cover while the bikers themselves still get a 3+ cover save.

Sadly they lack staying power and with the scouts lower WS and BS (Slightly covered by the TL bolters on the bikes) they can’t be relied upon to do much damage unless it’s on unmoved tanks.

Assault squad,
Sadly the boys lack the dedicated combat punch to take on proper CC units. Instead I’ve found them more suited to bullying non CC units like tactical squad or tau fire warriors or suits.

I’ve always run them as anti horde with 2 flamers and a Sgt with Powerfist, but I have seen some units run with 2 plasma pistols and Sgt with plasma pistol for some anti marine firepower before assaulting, but the worry of losing marines before combat to overheats makes me not as keen to run this combo.

They can also work well alongside a hammer unit if you multi charge 2-3 units, do loads of wounds with the hammer unit then have the assault marines sweeping advance the fleeing squads.

Their sadly take 10 or go home and deep striking is well out of the question for me, if they had Meltaguns maybe, but without and 2D6 scatter no thank you. I’ll save my fast attack slots for other better units.

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