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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Which Space Marine army overall is better at assault?


So there’s a conversation going on over on Warseer over which SM army is the best assault army, specifically BT, BA or SW. Let’s take a little look ourselves. BT can get preferred enemy across the board and outside of transports are capable of getting two moves in a turn thanks to Zeal. However, their Troops really aren’t fantastic at CC simply being Marines and their potential 2nd move doesn’t compensate for lack of mech as any canny opponent will focus fire. It really does come down to a general lack of assault units much like Vanilla SM. Whilst Vanilla SM can pull out some impressive combat units like TH/SS termies and Command Squads, they cannot make a true assault based army due to lack of assault options in Heavy Support, Fast Attack & Troops. The same can be said of BT and preferred enemy doesn’t overcome this. BT also do such a good shooty list with 5x Terminator squads w/Tank Hunters & 2x assault cannons.

Let’s look at BA and SW then. We’ve covered BA a lot lately so we’ll do them first. Whilst their FoC looks very similar to SM they have a few advantages in FoC terms. First off, Vanguard are usable in pure Jumper armies thanks to Descent of Angels so we have an actual FA combat slot. Heavy Support is still a bit iffy in terms of combat (Dreads don’t really cut it) but we are much more capable of getting combat units in Troops that work and more variety in our HQ/Elite slots. So without looking at FoC changes, why are BA Troops ‘capable’ assault units and Vanilla/BT not? First off, BA get ASM as Troops. ASM in Fast Attack are...well worthless. They aren’t great at combat, can’t take special weapons outside of flamers (BA can however, so big tick here) and don’t score. BA ASM do all of these plus a little bonus we’ll talk about later. Whilst they lose out in midfield presence compared to Tac Marines unless they are in combat, Tac Marines can be semi-okay in combat as well thanks to the same little bonus. However, in comparison terms to BT/Vanilla Troops, ASM are miles ahead and form the backbone of an assault army, bodies. You can also take DC which are decent in combat again for Troops but nothing really spectacular with the loss of Rending. They do give access to DC Dreads though which are very good in combat but have a huge target painted on them + the opportunity cost of buying DC and neither of these units score.

We can also make Sanguinary Guard as Troops. Whilst 40pts for a flying terminator w/o invul seems a bit steep, these guys do make an effective army when in Troops, particularly when the BA bonus is added. These guys are actual combat units which can be taken as Troops. Once again, BA being able to take semi-decent and decent combat units as Troops puts them well ahead of BT/Vanilla Marines who’s basic Troops are really only okay at what they do. But what makes these scoring Troops even better? FNP/FC bubbles of course. Whilst it’s harder to get re-rolls on all of your units (needing Chaplain led units or Psy Powers) the survivability from FNP is huge and FC on all of your units allows your Troops to be that much more effective in combat. This is what makes BA tick as an assault army.

And in Elites/HQ? We have some pretty decent combat HQs in Dante, Mephiston, Seth (who wants a damn Jump Pack!), Honor Guard, etc. And then a lot of choice in Elites w/Terminators, Furiosos & Sanguinary Guard but also need to have room for Sanguinary Priests. In relation to Vanilla/BT, BA don’t really have a huge advantage here but backed up by effective combat Troops and FNP/FC bonus...well, again they are miles ahead of the older books. These slots come down to how your army is rolling as they offer up a lot of flexibility in terms of what your army make-up is all about but again, an Elite slot needs to be maintained for Sanguinary Priests if combat Troops are being used.

So, whilst BA do non-assault armies very well, their assault armies are also very potent as they can bring to bear a mass of attacks and bodies which are far superior to BT/Vanilla Marines whilst being backed up by heavy hitters in Elites/HQ. Also, in specific armies VV are a viable combat choice above and beyond what BT/Vanilla Marines can use in Fast Attack.

So what about Space Wolves? As an army they get counter-attack and acute senses compared to BA FNP/FC bubbles (let’s also remember these bubbles can be neutralised) so BA win there. FNP/FC > counter. This means Space Wolf Troops aren’t as good as BA Troops in terms of combat but do hold a bigger midfield presence whilst being no slouches at combat. FoC changes mildly help with this (Canis = Wolves as non-scoring Troops; Logan = Wolf Guard Troops) but neither changes bring real combat heavy hitters into combat. So whilst SW Troops are certainly solid in combat and better than your BT/Vanilla Troops, BA Troops win out in being much more capable at launching assaults even though their FNP/FC is point based.

SW also have combat options in Fast Attack, potentially the best combat unit any Marine books has access to. Thunderwolf Calvary <3. These guys are very, very good thanks to their beast nature, high number of attacks, rending and wound/toughness numbers. Give these guys a huge tick over anything any of the other armies are capable of fielding but do they make the SW army as a whole better at combat? Not really. They provide units that are excellent at chewing through tiny units or if points are invested in them, they become drop dead scary to everything.

What about SW Elites/HQ? They can again get some of the scariest combat HQs w/Warrior-Born on a TWC mount and have some excellent combat units elsewhere in Iron Priests (w/TWC mount) and Lone Wolves. However, for the most part whilst SW Elites can be combat oriented, outside of those two units combat is generally their secondary option (think Loganwing missile spam or Dreadnoughts).

When we take all this into account, SW have some decidingly deadly combat units (much like Vanilla/BT) but on an army-wide scale, they don’t have the combat prowess BA can bring in nearly every FoC. In terms of who wins in assault or can SW make assault armies, tough to tell and yes SW can but since we’re looking at overall army cc effectiveness we have to hand it to the BA. SW outside of cavalry armies are a lot more focused on shooting or advancing into midfield. Whilst they are certainly effective in combat and combat upgrades on Grey Hunters aren’t frowned upon like they are for Vanilla Marines, BA are a much more offensive based assault army whilst for most SW armies it’s a secondary expertise.

7 pinkments:

Roland Durendal said...

Good stuff Kirb. For the most par I agree that BA are right now the best looking Assault oriented army out there. Hopefully though, when they revamp BT's, BT's also become a very strong CC army.

Though I will say, when comparing SW and BA, I feel that it really comes down to who gets the charge. The FNP/FC abilities truly rely on them pulling off the charge. Otherwise, they're as good as Grey Hunters in CC for the most part.

That I think is what makes BA extremely strong, but it's also their Achilles Heel: they need to charge so they capitalize on FC. Otherwise their effectiveness drops significantly. On the other hand, SW don't rely on the charge and do equally well charging or being charged.

And TWC <3

Chumbalaya said...

SW, BT and SM perform a lot better as a more balanced army, while BA can do pure assault quite effectively.

winter said...

Roland has the key of it. BA need to charge. When they do, they are truly frightening, when they don't, they are only slightly scarier than vanilla marines. Jump packs help them get the charge, but not if they deepstrike, so Descent of Angels is nice, but not as nice as it could be.

SW are always scary - more so if they have been tooled up for assault. Powerweapon/Mark of the Wulfen, Wolf Standard make Grey Hunters a scary proposition (also add the Wolf Guard w/ powerfist that will be there 90% of the time).

Kirby said...

All of this sums up to: "Blood Rodeo is awesome!" The biker screen allows the ASM to get off the assault whilst the FNP makes the whole army impressively survivable w/the Priests being able to hide behind the combats. Teleporting termies add in a big punch.

BA are really about combined assaults. They can't take as many awesome units like TWC/Wolf Lords but due to the FNP/FC bubbles they can and will overwhelm opponent's if there are serious CC threats around (i.e. Termies, VV, Sang Guard). SW are much more we shoot you, you get close we your with the majority of their lists (TWC lists are we shoot and run at you and eat you and drink ale!).

Marshal Wilhelm said...

A bit of a troll here;

Why are Sang Guard or Assault Terms w/ FC&FNP better than BT ones?
As soon as the IC Priest is taken out, the BA drop in effectiveness, whilst it remains built into BT. It is brittle like a Chaos Icon.
Charging BT terms > BA ones, BT re-roll to hit - who cares about FNP if you've already killed 'em all? ;)

How are BA assault troops any better than BT Crusaders? It's FC v Preferred Enemy. If the BA don't get the charge off, they lose.

I would love a mêlée Dread for Templars but how is a MM, HF one not as good as a BA one?
Blood Talons are nice but then so is a HF. The range of the MM means the Furioso or DeathCo can be picked off before getting into assault range and 12" MELTA range is a good thing.
Re-rolls to hit is also nice for a unit with only 3 attacks on the charge.

What do you think?

Brother Loring said...

Marshal... FNP will greatly increase the survivability of the terminators (and assault marines) greatly outside of their transports - something assault armies need to be able to cope with.

Remember, BA do have access to preferred enemy.... unleash rage!

As we all know... New SS>>>Old SS.... 3++ IS the new black after all!

+1..... <3

Cost and additional equipment also makes a difference! :(

A BT dread can't potentially plough through any unit in a single turn... something Talons can do.

But don't worry... we'll get a new codex soon enough!

Chumbalaya said...

I'd rather have BT LC Termies over BA LC Termies, but once you start adding in Storm Shields BA get the nod.

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