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Friday, September 17, 2010

Comparison: Blood Angels Heavy Support (ACLC Predators, Riflemen Dreadnoughts, ML Devs)


I was asked to check out this thread over on B&C and weigh in with my comments by Katie_Drake. It’s a pretty long thread with a lot of quote-fu and not being a prolific poster on B&C, I’ll post my thoughts on this debate here. Before we get any further, let’s take a quick look at what the Rifledread and ACLC Pred do in general as well as BA Devs as they should also factor into this argument. I’m going to take a couple quotes from B&C because some of the posts were just spot on. First up is Brother_Don’t on the Rifledread:

“It's cheap volume firepower with good range. It's hits hard enough to make any transport nervous and is very effective against any small units of toughness models other than Terminators. It's easier to find cover for than a Predator. More mobile than Devastators. Has twice the reach of any SM Dreadnought that rolls more than 1 shot per weapon. And just generally looks way cooler than it's PV suggests.”

And from Joasht:

“Its four very accurate S7 shots, so you usually use it to pop Rhinos, Razorbacks, Raiders, Trukks and misc light vehicles or as people said, to shake things around at a good range. Plus its still a dreadnought, and even though its not very killy you can still walk him up the board slowly while firing, then get him stuck in with something that can never kill him and tie that unit up for the rest of the game. For 120 points its not nearly too shabby. ”

All excellent points for the Rifledread. Basically the Rifledread adds reliable, high rate of fire medium-high strength shots at an excellent range whilst still being mobile. Sounds awfully a lot like suppression fire and is pretty good at low AV anti-tank as well. A few other points, the Dread is a walker so can climb ruins (very important when someone uses a bunch of cityfight terrain *looks at Vinsanity*) and isn't going to immob itself on a tiny rock (unless said rock is 'dangerous'). The Dread can shoot over Rhinos/Preds/RBacks with clear LoS whilst gaining cover and is capable of locking things in combat which is great for objective denial/defence if the unit doesn’t have a reliable means of taking out a Walker in cc.

Devastators in BA are some of the un-sung heroes in the new book. Nowhere near as efficient as Long Fangs, who can split fire with small squads but much better than Vanilla SM due to appropriate heavy weapon costing. They are also capable of getting FNP from Priests and with combat squads, can split fire like long fangs with ablative wounds (but cost more). Whilst Devastators cannot be stun-locked they can be locked in assault and cannot move and shoot.

In Vanilla lists, the ACLC Pred isn’t as stellar because of its relative mobility issues. However, it still gets 4 S7+ shots at BS4 and provides a front AV of 13 so is an excellent battle tank from the backfield. Whilst not as reliable (no twin-linking) and effective as the Rifleman against lower AVs, the ACLC Pred is quite capable of dropping heavier armour (12+) and can damage AV14 (if however unlikely) and is still likely to get a damage result against lower AVs. The lascannons suffer a further issue though which is often overlooked: they are sponsons. In a mech heavy army this means your LoS may often me blocked or providing cover. However, within BA armies where the Pred is fast, this is less of an issue as the Pred can manoeuvre to clear LoS lanes and is generally a lot more mobile and therefore capable of getting easier side shots. Whilst more expensive, the ACLC Pred really comes into its own within the BA codex as a fast gunboat capable of putting 2 lascannons and an autocannon into your side armor.

Overall, both the ACLC Pred, BA ML Devs and Rifledread are in a similar mould. They all bring multiple and pretty reliable S7+ firepower to field. In a BA army the Dread and Pred are about as mobile as each other with the Dread better in terrain and the Pred better on the move whilst the Devs get the FNP bonus. The Pred suffers a bit from side-shots so isn’t fantastic in midfield whilst the Dread is much better there but the Pred also sports 2 S9 shots which give it a broader spectrum of armor to damage. The Devs are able to split fire and not be stun-locked but are suspectible to being assaulted and locked in combat (much like the Dread though this is also an offensive asset). All in all, pretty hard to pick a "clear" winner. Another example of good codex design.

So: which is better? Even with BA fastness attached to the Pred and FNP goodness on the Devs, I’d lean in favour of the Rifledread for its reliability and versatility in positioning and mobility amongst terrain features whilst having a good AV. However, we don’t play in a vacuum (thankfully) and this is really a personal choice, I just like the Dread a bit better than the others. But, when you consider the rest of the BA army, Preds, Dreads and BA Devs all have specific armies where they are better options, it's up to you though to figure this out. Or I can help.

So, when to use the Pred over the Dread or rather for a BA army, when to use the Dread and how about the BA Devs? The Rifledread is great at suppression fire and being a can opener for light transports like Chimeras, Trukks, Rhinos, etc. In a BA Mech list though, you often don’t need this thanks to Razorbacks (LasPlas or AssCannons) which do great suppression suppression fire whilst also threatening tanks. Vanilla SM don’t do MSU nearly as well and it’s these type of BA lists where Preds (all types) really come into their own. You’ve already got 6 Fast, scoring and ‘cheap’ Razorbacks on the table and what better way to support them with AV13 fast Preds? ACLC and Baals can really help here by providing AV13 screens and fast flanking firepower. Flanking with the ACLC Preds gives you side armor shots whilst protecting your own side armor and provides more opportunity for clear LoS on the sponsons. The Dread and Devs, whilst still quite capable of sitting in the backfield and firing away, loses some of their advantages and can have LoS issues as the rest of the army moves away from the backfield and plays mini-Eldar with MEQ statlines. Whilst still capable of working in these armies, the Preds create a synergistic whole for the army.

What about an assault based army where there aren’t a bunch of fast vehicles on the table such as a Jumper army? Well here the Dread and Pred obviously are able to provide great suppression fire to defend the ASM against incoming firepower but are going to be the only thing on the board quite often (if the Jumper element deep strikes). Also being the only vehicles in the BA arsenal, this means they are unlikely to ever shoot and very likely to die quickly. Here’s where BA devastators make their move as they can get similar firepower to the Dreads & Preds for a similar point cost and if willing to pay more, can split their fire over 6 targets (i.e. better suppression) and have ablative wounds. With a baby-sitting Priest these guys are very hard to move and cannot be shake-locked like vehicles which makes Devs a much better choice for a foot based BA army.

What about Hybrid armies then? Whilst I’m not a fan of Hybrid for BA, this is where Dreads are more useful for BA than Preds or Devs. Again, all these units can put out similar firepower levels and have different advantages and disadvantages but Hybrid BA is already a mixed kettle of unit types with fast vehicles and Jumpers, add some Dreads to the mix :P. Here their reliability (and cheapness) really comes to the fore as you can slow/destroy opposing mech whilst advancing behind the Fast Rhinos/RBacks which are screening the Jumpers or stay put and babysit and objective sitter. Preds would need to swing out wide to clear their LoS and you don't have enough mech  massed in their face to ensure their safety whilst BA Devs require a FNP bubble investment to be truly durable which will take from your main assault element.

Let's be clear again here, for BA ML Devs, ACLC Preds and Riflemen Dreads are all good options. I may prefer the Riflemen Dreads based on whatever my cognitive processing is based but each of these units is very capable and what one is taken often depends on personal choice but most importantly, army composition. Take a look at what the rest of your force does. If you're looking for fire support all 3 options provide that but is your army foot based or mech based? Is it assaulting or playing a midfield game? These type of questions will help decide which of these 3 options is the best for your particular list. This is good games design by GW because you have, wait for it, options.

6 pinkments:

fester said...

See Kirbs, I disagree on Dreads for Hybrid lists.
When you are hybrid'ing jumpers and mech as in BA lists, you need to work with the mobility you already have, which means Fast Predators.

I know that you are only moving @ 6" to shoot everything, and dreads go the same, but maybe barebones AC preds are worthwhile when you think about it that way.

Kirby said...

If you're going barebones, Baals are better. More expensive but more shots and more reliable. With a Hybrid list you really want an anchor of some description (think Immo spam with IG blob) whilst with a Mech BA you don't want any static points (think Eldar).

fester said...

Dunno to be honest. With the speed the rest of the army exhibits, I wonder if the anchor could be too easily outflanked and removed (i dont mean outflanked deployment, i mean outmanouvered)

Kirby said...

Hard to outmanuever Rifledreads since they pivot in shooting phase, don't care if you're in side arc and have a 48+6" range :P. The point of Hybrid BA really is to send an armored column down your opponent's throat which basically opens up and all these Jumper marines have at ye. Think of the Dreads as 'pinning' firepower and whilst Devs and Preds can also do this, Devs are immobile and both are more expensive (the Dread is also the most reliable of the lot).

Again, you can really fit Preds and Dreads interchangably into most lists but it depends on how you want your playstyle to run. You can play a Hybrid list with ACLC Preds, it just runs a bit differently. You can play pure Mech with Dreads instead of Preds, it just plays differently, etc.

VT2 said...

For heavy, dreads are indeed kings.
The pink one doth speaketh the truth.

Marshal Wilhelm said...

I think they are quite even.
Stelek and I spoke on them on YTTH a while back.
The Dread has nice high guns and never gets worse than AV12 ~ Stelek's preferred.

The Pred, if stun/shaken'd, can completely reposition. I think that is massive. Also, if the Pred does need to reposition, two turns allows it to cover 24" and fire all guns at the end of it. The Dread will be puffed out moving 12+7*" and not be able to shoot its guns.
Being able to make something happen even if you can't shoot is golden.
*This is what BT Smoke and XA has taught me*

What stops the Pred being the winner is that the sponsons are low [giving cover] and using the Pred to move forwards aggressively exposes AV 11 ~ boo!
I would use them like Railheads with multi tracker, drift them sideways to keep targets in view and perhaps expose enemy side AV.
LCs also give a chance against AV 13-14 and go straight through sv2+ [which is excitably annoying if you have good guns but he gets to use his save]
Tervigons, Terms, Sang guard, Mega Nobz and FNP buffed things all fall to the LC. These targets are normally some 40 pts. Quite a good return considering they are not the target prey of the Pred but can be engaged as circumstances change.

I prefer the Pred, but I think both have merit.

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