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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Armies in 5th: Psychic Powers: Space Marines

The first book of 5th edition was the Space Marines and they really brought about the “beginning” of everyone realising psychic powers were back. Whilst everyone complained about Libbies dropping to 2 wounds and less attacks and thus not being combat beasts…oh well, they never were meant to be that. Whilst I think SC’s w/2 wounds is silly (I.e. Tiggy and Njal) it’s part of life we have to deal with. This was also the introduction of ranged limited psychic defences, thanks 24” hoods. It’ll be interesting to see if Eldar get this with their Runes of Warding as well… So let’s look at the Libby spells. As before we’ll do in order of what I think are the best to the worst.

Null Zone - Did anyone really have anything else here? You can stick a Null Zone libby in any army and you’ve got your HQ sold yet Warseer still complains about Marine HQs. So your Captain isn’t a beast, wahwah. What this spell does is make every unit which relies on an invul save (I.e. Nobs in combat, Seer Council, TH/SS termies, Daemons, etc.) less effective. TH/SS termies are less survivable than something in cover when now hit with an AP2/1 weapon. This means all your low AP weapons, armouring ignoring close combat units, etc. are suddenly more effective and against units like Councils and Daemons, it will win you games. Don’t. Leave. Home. Without. It.

Now these next few spells are all really dependent on what type of list you’re running and so are down to personal preference as secondary powers (I.e. Vortex on a walking Libby is silly but not on a bike/termie libby).

Gate of Infinity - When the codex came out, everyone latched onto this power. The ability to essentially move 24” but not assault had a lot of awesome tactics when combined with locator beacons but the problem was the unit is generally left on it’s own and without locator beacons…has minimal impact. However, when locator beacons are around or you’re quite happy to simply have your Libby used as a utility guy w/Null Zone & GoI, GoI can be very useful, especially for late objective grabbing (though it’s uses here are limited). The ability to bring certain units to bear (I.e. sternguard) within their optimum range is classic of Space Marine tactics (fluff-wise). Would I use it without locator beacons? Most likely not but it does have its uses when there aren’t any around.

Avenger - AP3 templates are always nice but the obvious problem is range. If you’re in a transport or on bike this might be a good option as it can make clearing objectives a lot easier. The S5 also means you’re insta-killing most objective holders on a 2+. Follow up with a nice charge… I find though with this spell the Libby seems geared for “combat” or getting up close and personal which isn’t really the case. I find Avenger is best used if you think of it like a combi-flamer, you’re really only ever going to get one shot with it unless you’re lucky.

Vortex of Doom - S10 AP1, blast? Oh it’s heavy and ranged 12” so really it’s best use is going to be on a bike where the Libby can move and shoot and also get within range (though you can at least be screened with Vortex). Problems though lie in the short ranged, much like Avenger and the impressive statline may have you moving closer when you shouldn’t. When you consider bike armies have a lot of meltaguns/suppression fire you’re not that fussed about the anti-tank ability and whilst it is a blast, TL-bolters and templates are generally better anti-infantry platforms. The real advantage of this is the S10 meaning you can ID T5 characters or models and against AV14 you’ve got another gun which is always nice.

For a biker Libby I’d say it comes down between these last 2. They are both close ranged and if you want the extra cover busting, go for Avenger. What the S10, go for Vortex but remember you’re unlikely to shoot them much either way and Null Zone is the primary power. So back to the order of powers. We’re getting into the powers I think are pretty much ignorable and unfortunately there are a lot more in this book than other books.

Force Dome - Unlike SW/BA this is a 5+ invul, not cover. This is good against most armies as there are a lot less invul ignoring weapons compared to cover ignoring weapons. However, unlike BA and like SW, this is a full turn power and cannot be used in your opponent’s turn which drops this down the list. Furthermore, it’s just him and his unit (no 6” radius) so it’s basically only usable for a Podding unit which is out in the open and not usable in mech armies where BA/SW find their primary uses.

Machine Curse - This is a funny one. Basically a 3+ chance (minus psychic stuff) to glance a vehicle. Not bad but 24” range and Rhinos only having 2 Firepoints generally means this isn’t what you want shooting out of Rhinos. Furthermore, Scouts don’t have the same range limitations and don’t really enjoy shooting vehicles anyway.

Quickening/Might of the Ancients - These 2 powers are essentially combat carry-overs from the previous codex and best left to someone like Mephiston. Whilst I10 from Quickening is funny to “assassinate” enemy characters, this also means you need the 50 point Epistolary upgrade to be able to use the Force Weapon and only S4 w/4A on the charge isn’t always going to get it done. Add in the weak defences (2W, no invul) and they aren’t really combat characters anymore. Same with Might of the Ancients. Mini-MC is nice but not really needed. If you need the Libby kicking butt for you in combat, you’re doing something wrong.

Smite - Short ranged AP2 shooting power? Avenger is going to be better more often than not thanks to its template nature. There are much better shooting attacks in Vortex or Avenger and this should just not be used.

Libbies should nearly always be taken in SM armies (dual Command bikers = exception) as your primary HQ. The ability to provide psy defense is worth the 100pts + the ability of Null Zone to just screw over certain armies. Therefore I really think it comes down to Null Zone + GoI/Vortex/Avenger but there are some uses for Machine Curse/Force Dome. Briefly on the libby as well it’s generally best to leave him bare. No real need to spend the points on any upgrades (particularly Epistolary) other than Terminator armor and/or combi-weapons to fit your model or whatever he’s riding with (I.e. Termiantors). Storm shield isn’t really needed for his cost either.

Will be doing Space Wolves powers next and will be writing up a Rune Priest ‘tactica’ on request but this will be posted on Space Wolves blog and linked back here (the power analysis will go here though). I also have a really cool modelling idea for my Libby on a bike (1) but haven’t worked on him lately because of university work. We’ll see if I can do him before my Tyranids but unlikely…

8 pinkments:

Surreptitious Muffin said...

See, Magic Juggler seemed to think that Null Zone was crap and I don't understand why. It's too damn useful to ignore really. Libbies are the best non-SC HQ in the codex, plus the models are sexy. What's your opinion on the two-power upgrade?

Surreptitious Muffin said...

Oh and uh...for the record I like a naked libby with Nullzone and GoI in a unit of sternguard. Very nice unit if used correctly.

Chumbalaya said...

Null Zone and that Hood is enough reason to field a Librarian in every game. The fact that he only costs 100 points is just fantastic.

I like Gate of Infinity if he rolls with Sternguard or Termies in a Raider. It's not entirely reliable, but it's a damn sight better than hoofing it across the board when your Raider gets popped turn 1.

MagicJuggler said...

Muffin: I don't consider Null Zone crap at all. Where did this assertion come from? Was it because I placed it on the "bad Marine List" I wrote for laughs?

MagicJuggler said...

The point of that list though was to show that you can have non-terribad, or even good units (Librarians, Eldrad, etc), but have a bad army because the individual elements don't work together.

Kirby said...

Aye for 100pts, Space marines leave home without a libby for few reasons.

Auretious Taak said...

Gate of Infinity+Vortex of Doom+Terminator Armour = win. Or at the least more effecive options to use the Gate. Remember that you can move and fire heavy weapons in terminator armour. It's one of the first combinations I saw kicking around when the Space Marine codex was first released this time around.


Auretious Taak.

HolyCause said...

I consider Null Zone to be one of the (if not the absolute) best psychic power in 40K. Being able to re-roll invulnerable saves is pissing in the wind against some armies (Tau... wait, why are you within NZ range?) but against others... it's a complete god-send (second chance of stopping things like Fortune on seer councils) or essentially auto-win (Daemons).

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