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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
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"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Counterpoint: Tacticals Don't Suck


Oh hey there, I was just sitting here looking at every other army in the game and wondering why Marine players are always bitching and moaning about how terribly Tactical Marines are, how many points they cost for nothing, etc, etc. Lemme tell you what, my friend, most armies would kill for troops as good as Tactical Marines. The fact that you are spoiled rotten and don't appreciate does not garner a whole lot of sympathy from me.

"But they're horrible in melee!" Unless you compare them to, you know, a unit that's actually bad in melee. Like Tau. Or IG. Do you know how many Marines it takes to beat a unit of Guardsmen in combat? Two.

"They're so fragile!" Hahahahahahahahahaha. No, I'm sorry, are you the army with the defining "best save in the game"? And do you get 35pt transports and ATSKNF? Yeah, go to hell.

"They only get one heavy one special! Two (heavy/special) weapons would be better!" Hey, you know who doesn't get ANY tank-killing guns in their troops squads? A lot of armies. The fact that your four-man squad is still going to be capable of wrecking a Land Raider is kinda a pretty huge deal most of the time.

"They're expensive!" Huh, yeah, 205 pts (Rhino/MM/Flamer, the "good" build) is quite a few points. Well, let's look at what other armies pay:

Blood Angels: 225pts (double-melta ASM in Rhino; 20 pts gets you more CC and Fast, but kills your midfield game)
Daemons: 75pts (5 Plaguebearers; a unit that literally does nothing but squat on an objective, and their other troops aren't much better)
Daemon Hunters: 125pts (5 IST, 2 Melta, Rhino; not exactly sturdy, their other choices are hilariously overpriced)
Dark Angels: 220pts (they're just worse than Space Marines!)
Dark Eldar: 150pts (10 Warriors, Lance, Blaster, Raider; protip: this is the only good unit in the codex)
Eldar: 170 (DAVU with Cannons; tough transport, scrawny dudes, minimal shooting)
Guard: 165pts (melta-Vets in Chimera; die instantly the moment their ride goes away)
Necrons: 180pts (10 Warriors; no specials, no useful abilities, nothing, just a vague shambling mass of "we're sort of hard to kill")
Orks: 142pts (11 Boyz, PK/Pole Nob, Trukk; uh, yeah, Trukk Boyz are terrible)
Space Wolves: 205pts (melta-Hunters in Rhino; better when closing, can't bunker, Ld8)
Tau: 145pts (6 FW, Dumbfish; has no heavy or special weapon, extremely fragile)
Tyranids: 115pts (50% of 10 Gants + Tervigon; weak in CC, limited anti-armor)
Witch Hunters: 194pts (10 Sisters, 2 Melta, Faithful, Rhino; I'd pay 11pts to be T4, I think)

So it's looking like most armies pay at least 100pts for their troops, with some very rare exceptions, and most of them are in the 150-200 range and have significant disadvantages over Tacticals. I'm sorry, how "overpriced" were they again?

Tacticals are not the best unit in the SM codex. They are not a "WOW!" unit, something that blows you away and makes you want to pick up the army. They are solid performers in a variety of roles, and they pay for their versatility both in points and in specific ability at any one task. But they can do virtually anything with some limited skill, a virtue that most armies are severely lacking in. One Multimelta is hardly likely to kill off all the enemy tanks, but when all your HS options have been cleared off the table and you're still staring down several vehicle hulls, you will appreciate not just sweeping to the enemy. Likewise BA and SW both have "superior" options... at specific roles that fit their codex. SM troops (and units in general) are much more capable of doing a variety of things and lack the specific weaknesses of BA and SW.

It would be awesome if you could use Sternguard instead of Tacticals and you didn't have to pay extra for them and everything was exactly like you wanted it. Tough titties; every army has things they have to deal with, and for Marines, it's taking some generalists in the Troops slot that may or may not fit your particular plan. Learn to build your army around the codex and stop complaining about one of the best troops in the game.

I now have so many authors they keep stealing my thunder(bubble)! I've got a rather lengthy post in the works about Tactical squads so keep your eyes peeled and discuss until then.

20 pinkments:

Lord Zorgatron said...

The issue with Tacs is that it is next to impossible to optimize them for anything save short-ranged torrent fire and melta-bunkering, and other armies have troops than can do purpose built task far more efficiently. One-on-one Tacs are damn awesome - but then so is everything in the marine book, and 40K isn't about that. Moreover, I don't think anyone denies the raw strength of Tactical Squads - it's just that said strength is unspecialised, and hard to use.

Captain Kellen said...

I think the phrase AP was looking for was...

... 'No glaring weakness'. I hate this phrase by the way.

Lord Z is correct when he talks about tacticals being unspecialized and isn't that the name of the game in 5th. A unit must be specialized and work in concert with the other elements of the army. Tacticals are difficult to work around when it comes to synergy.

Isn't synergy the catch phrase nowadays?

1. Good armour saves... but how much AP3 firepower or torrent of fire is out there against them? Lots!

2. One special and one heavy weapon in a maxed out squad... Two maxed out tacitcals are not exactly the definition of 'torrent', 'anti-tank', or anti-infantry'. I'll give someone 'quasi-bunker' if they have a rhino.

3. Spamming tacticals, 4 or 5 maxed squads, is the only real way you get something and then your list suffers somewhere else due to 'give and take'.

4. If tacticals are sooo good, why do competative players recommend IST's in troops slots for many list for economy of points? Economy of points is the point!

I noticed that AP doesn't list 'all' the troop choices of each codex in comparision to the tacticals. That would have been quite a list to compile and I can understand the time invovled.

Ahhhh... derailed... I'll get back to you...


AbusePuppy said...

They aren't supposed to be "optimized" for anything- they're generalists. That means they can contribute in a limited (but non-insignificant) way with any task. The key to generalists is that you _can't_ expect them to pull their weight alone. You NEED specialists to help them out, and the SM list has plenty of those available.

The synergy advantage of Tacticals is that they contribute to any and every task in the army, if you want them to. Over-specialization can be fatal- this is why dualism and multirole units are important, so that you can have the tools you need (even if they aren't the best possible tool) in multiple places.

1. AP3 gun are expensive and come in limited quantities. They also tend to be the same guns that are used to destroy tanks. Firepower aimed at your Tacticals is not going elsewhere. No matter how much you cry about Plasma and torrent, Tacticals are still tough. (I mean, seriously, no one bitches about these things with Terminators, and most guns are AP1/2, not AP3.)

>3. Spamming tacticals, 4 or 5 maxed squads, is the only real way you get something and then your list suffers somewhere else due to 'give and take'.

What are you trying to say here? I'm very confused. Tacticals should be taken in moderation, to supplement other units and form a scoring core of the army. Four or five squads is almost always too many.

>4. If tacticals are sooo good, why do competative players recommend IST's in troops slots for many list for economy of points? Economy of points is the point!

Most of Stelek's SM lists run Tacticals AND Stormtroopers; Tacs are for capturing, ISTs are suicide melta. Not the same role.

Pschutte said...

The thing no one seems to point out is combat squads. My armies live and die by these. A half tac-squad with a missile in the backfield, and the combi-sarge and melta gunner in the rhino advancing to midfield is 220 points and has the ability to do most anything. Now take three of them and you have six troops for 660 points, not bad right. You also have three additional midfield squads to join your sternguard or dreads and speeders while the backfield squads remain on low priority and hold an objective shooting missiles at transports. I think tacticals are some of the most versatile troops in the game and well worth the points you pay.

Sage said...

If you hate Tacticals, try out fire warriors some time. There's a reason we don't even buy a transport for them, and just let them use someone else's.

I completely understand you want your army to be bare-bones awesome. But lets consider something, shall we? Beyond Space Marines (of which there are many, many flavors) and IG, how many competitive configs for a codex are there?

Troops just suck in this edition, be glad you have one that can have melta.

VT2 said...

Tacticals are distinctly limited, but capable of doing pretty much everything.
Unfortunately, the only roles they're decent at are tank-busting and area denial.

Good? Bad? I call that 'useful,' and it's all I'm really looking for in troops.

As said above, there are a lot of worse troops - but also a lot of better ones.
Just remember that as far as bad troops go, yours are miles ahead of the competition, and nothing's forcing you to take more than two squads.

Anyone who claims that tacticals suck need to sit back and read some other codices.
'Suck' is a very charged word, and nowhere near the same as 'bad.'

Lord Zorgatron said...

VT2 is on the dot. You make some very good points Puppy, and don't get me wrong, Tacs are not bad at all - but other armies have access to troops that are clearly better, and optimization is the reason why. Being a generalist is only feasible when everything you can do is effective; as it has been covered, Tacs do short range anti-tank (via the melta bunker route) and short range torrent fire decently, and that's it. To me, only doing two things efficiently doesn't make a unit a generalist; in fact, off the top of my head three units I'd call optimised - Rifleman Dreads, TW Cavalry with a Thunder Hammer and some Storm Shields and BA Libby with Lance and Shield - have that many efficient functions.

Marshal Wilhelm said...

Is this the comparo article I was hoping for, or am I jumping the gun?

I would like a 3++ analysis of Crusaders and how they stack up against Tacs and Grey hunters. Please.

Kirby said...

No Wilhelm, it's coming. In regards to Crusaders...well poor lad lol.

AbusePuppy said...

>but other armies have access to troops that are clearly better

Who? Guard I will buy, their troops basically _are_ their army. BA and GH you can argue, but I don't think they are leaps and bounds better the same way most do. More fitted to the army, in the case of BA, but... Tervigons? Good, but pricey and a pure support unit. What else is there?

>Rifleman Dreads, TW Cavalry with a Thunder Hammer and some Storm Shields and BA Libby with Lance and Shield - have that many efficient functions.

Those units aren't generalists. (Well, maybe the Libby a bit.) TH/SS are dedicated heavy close combat units, nothing else. Riflemen are versatile shooting; both of these are very different from a Tactical's ability to score, bunker, kill tanks of all kinds, kill infantry of all kinds (at ranged and generally in CC as well), and do it all while potentially being mobile.

GreyICE said...

The problem is that your opponent is not a potted plant.

Your space marines win against guardsmen in close combat? Cool. But no one charges Tac Marines with guard. They're going to CC tac marines with actual close combat units. And then they lose.

They get special weapons? Cool. Nice. They CAN wreck a land raider. If someone took land raiders. But, in fact, no one does, so they can wreck a Razorback or something. Woot.

Listen to what VT2 said. Good? Bad? They do what they do, and that's okay. But really, they don't do anything to make you want to take more. You see Blood Angels, Space Wolves, Tyranids, they often take 3-6 troops choices. Space Marines are just going to always take 2 from their own codex. Tac Marines pay too much for what they do. Significant advantages? Yes, they're generalists, in some ways they're better than everything. But in most ways, they're worse than everything (except Necron Warriors. Those fail entirely. Goddamn do they need a new codex) (actually DAVU is pretty Dire too)(Tau only take one squad of Firefailures, unless they're dumb).

Marshal Wilhelm said...

Fiddlesticks :(

Before I start complaining, I'll wait till it comes out.

btw, I asked a question on Rune Priests but that thread is old so maybe my post didn't last long enough on the board.
Here it is:

RP cost 100-120 pts.
5 Long Fangs w/ 4 ML = 115 pts.

You like RPs. Are they better than that unit of Fangs?

Steve said...

I think the disconnect is what you qualify as "good" "bad" or "sucks".

I think Tacs are good. This does not mean I think they are the best troop choice in the entire game no matter what.

I think Melta Vets might be considered better point for point and I could give you Grey Hunters too. After that? I think they are better or as good as any other Troop choice in the game.

Course I play Tau and my view on what makes a decent Troop choice might be skewed. :)

Kirby said...

It'll be up in a couple of hours Wilhelm.

What RP post? There have been a couple I think. Depends on the list in the end. You generally need at least 1 priest per army for defenses and utility and they are a good unit in their own right. They are cheap as chips for what they do but does that make them better than 4 missiles? Not always. Does that mean you take 4 RPs? No. All about balance :P.

Marshal Wilhelm said...

This one:

AbusePuppy said...

Tyranids take 4+ Troops because each of their troops takes two slots for Gants + Tervi. They also tend to not use their troops for scoring, which is a problem all its own.

MSU troops for BA and SW taking six troops means they're actually spending a pretty similar number of points to ~3 units of Tacticals.

Of course IG don't charge Marines, Marines charge IG. What did you think I meant? And yes, they die to dedicated CC units; so what? That's what "dedicated CC unit" means, right?

I'm pretty sure people still take Land Raiders and other heavy tanks. And even "just" wrecking transports is a big deal, because a lot of armies don't get to do that with their troops.

As far as common troops go, I would rank Tacticals above everything in the Necron, Eldar, and Tau codices, and also Grey Knights, Sisters, anything Orkish, all Daemons, CSM, and obviously DA. That's well over 50% of the armies in the game and basically just leaves them matched up against the other MEQs, which Kirby does a good job of talking about in his post.

Raptors8th said...

You know that double melta GH in a Rhino only cost 190 points, right? Which is cheaper than a tac squad, and while it sacrifices 12 inches of range and 6 inches of melta range, it has the ability to move and shoot (thus effectively giving it a slightly better range), has twice the chance of destroying any tank it shoots, and isn't nearly useless without it's bunker. Oh, and as a plus they're actually decent in combat, able to beat orks (yeah I know haha orks suck, but they'll still wipe the floor with your tac squad when they hit you), and have a decent chance against anything without mass PWs. And for 10 points more, they then become amazing in combat (only one round, but you're generally only going to have one round worth using it per game). And you say Tacs are better than this?
How does that work?

ModoX said...

I'm fairly new to the game, and I can say that as a newbie the main problem with Tacticals is that, with no clear role, it's hard to really know what to do with them on the tabletop. It sounds stupid I know, but when you're very new, you're yet to learn even these basic concepts.

Anyway, I only really wanted to comment to say that it is awesome to see a blogger use the phrase "tough titties", it should happen more often.

VT2 said...

All the secrets of tactical squads.

The Wolf's Lunch said...

"But they're horrible in melee!" Unless you compare them to, you know, a unit that's actually bad in melee. Like Tau. Or IG. Do you know how many Marines it takes to beat a unit of Guardsmen in combat? Two.

Agreed. Threw two long fangs into a squad of IG and they contested an objective for me.

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