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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Marine codex 'review' (#14): heavy fail

Devastators: bad.

So many words to get out, and so little space.

DEceivingly heavily armed squads, made up of Vanguard-expensive dudes on foot.
Attack bikes make far cheaper platforms for multi-meltas and heavy bolters.
ernguard do lascannons and regular missiles better, for less.
Autocannons aren't an option, unfortunately.
Tactical marines at least own midfield, and venerable dreads are the marine masters of the plasmacannon. You could take squads of these, OR you Skip this entry, and use your heavy support slots to put more armor on the field.

Mediocre and overpriced at best (4 missiles or heavy bolters), too bad for words at worst (4 plasmacannons or lascannons), devastators are painfully bad, and never worth it.

You'll hear certain people on warseer and similar argue that this is a good unit, because it lets you mass heavy weapons.
Well, when the squad starts at 90, and four of the cheapest gun is 60 total, that's a problem. Five guys on foot. 150 points at the very least. Add five more dudes for +80 points, to be a real pro, and put a powerfist and plasmapistol on the sarge. Now you're one with the forcel.
Such good value, and such a fairly priced unit, too.

Forumitis acknowledges the failings of this unit, but suggests that if you drop pod them in, they'll be 100% awesome in turn two, while avoiding damage in turn one. This is so bad, and so wrong, I don't even need to comment.

There really isn't much more to say about devastators.
Yes, you get one gun with ballisticskill 5. Yes, you have four guns that cost three to four times as much as elsewhere. Yes, you can combat squad ten men with four lascannons to engage two targets, but that's 310 points, bare minimum. Are you really gonna take that instead of 3 predators?

What makes it good: marine infantry with lots of big guns.

What makes it bad: hilariously overpriced. Immobile. Always a target, but unlike armor, devastators melt if they're shot at.


Thunderfire cannon: bad.

This thing's got a nickname, and it's a good one. 'The blunderfail cannot.'

The one and only time you get to shoot this, the opponent has to remove a squad.

Is there anything this cannon can do that a predator, scout bikers, or sternguard cannot do for less? No.

Why should you buy this thing when it costs more than the legion, money-wise? 'You shouldn't' is the answer.
Some players got the marine spearhead, and were gifted with one from it. In case you didn't know, the spearhead is the main source of thunderfires, because it's sold very poorly.

If you have one, this article's for you.
100 points, and the cannon is yours. It's crewed by a single teechmarine, so really a tactical marine in artificer armor is having a field day walking the chapter's retarded gun on caterpillar tracks. This would be a good deal, if it weren't for one very important detail that spells instant-doom for anything it's applied to. The cannon and the techie is an artillery unit.

What this means is, hits are randomized between the guy and his rolling gun. Any and all hits against the cannon treat it as armor 10, and it's destroyed if it's ever glanced or penetrated.
Techmarine is what he is, with his one wound.
No, you can't attach servitors to this thing. That would make it better, and they weren't going for that.

The one thing that can't be denied is its firepower. Virtually any infantry you shoot at will go poof straight away.
Default mode is strength 6, AP5. Mode two is strength 5, AP6, but ignores cover. Mode three is strength 4, with no AP, but makes the target count as moving through difficult terrain next turn. Vehicles test for dangerous terrain instead. Translated, this becomes 'bikes can't turboboost during their next turn.' Regardless of mode, you put out 4 small blasts.

Default ammo even works against light armor and heavy infantry.

However, this lethality makes it a big, fat target, and the unit can't take any damage whatsoever. Your extreme range helps, but tables are rarely more than 48 inches across. Basically, if someone's in range of you, they'll shoot you, and most likely destroy one or both models in the unit.

For fun, you can but your cannon a drop pod. For even more fun, you can deep strike it in with the 310 point quad las devastators. The enemy never saw it coming.

Sadly, the nickname's right, and fits the cannon like a glove.

What makes it good: utterly destroys light infantry. It doesn't matter how many of them there are, or how far away they happen to be. When you fire, large parts of full ork mobs vaporize, and sometimes, the whole 30 strong unit turns to bloody chunks. Default ammo puts a lot of wounds on heavy- and elite infantry, and even works against light armor.

What makes it bad: extremely fragile. This point simply can't be stressed enough, and is a big strike against it. Unlike other artillery units, the thunderfire only has a single crewmember, and just one gun. If someone shoots at you, you're likely to lose either the gun or the techmarine right then and there.

28 pinkments:

SneakyDan said...

Disagree on Devs. You've totally ignored the fact that you can put those 5 marines into cover, and make them resilient as infantry can be. On top of that, a single glancing hit stops your 3 cheap preds from firing, making the points youve spent worthless. Yes, they are expensive, but your misleading people into thinking they aren't worth the points. 2 units, with 3 ablative wounds per unit, on a squad that has 4+ cover/3+ regular saves, takes some killing.

You can put devs in area terrain for a cover save, which you cant do with a Pred.

A single shot (shit, 2-3 shots) doesnt prevent your whole unit from firing. A decent str shot on a pred stops it shooting for a turn at best, or turns your vehicle into slag at worst.

Expensive? Yes. Terrible? No.

AbusePuppy said...

Devs with Missiles are not completely awful, since it gets you more shots than you can otherwise get from that slot for a not-unreasonable cost. (More than SW and BA pay, obviously, but not so much that you're crying.) Being able to buy 1-2 ablative wounds is also decent as an option.

There is a world of difference between T4 and AV13. Being shaken for a turn is annoying, to be sure, but the same amount of firepower that is necessary to do so tends to wipe Devs out wholesale, even with cover saves. Poor luck or poor placement can shut the Pred down for a turn- or more, potentially- but Devs are vulnerable by their very nature as infantry.

(Keep in mind that the squad you describe costs 180pts, which is hardly a fair comparison to the 85pt DakkaPred. And LasPred isn't good and shouldn't be compared to anything.)

Kirby said...

I think Vt2 gives the Devs a unfairly bad rep. Ya in the SM book they aren't great but it's possible to work them into lists and as Dan points out, they aren't exactly easy to munch infantry and don't get shaken. This doesn't make them better than a Pred but there are differences. See Blood Angels and Space Wolves where their Devs are more fairly costed.

Are they next to useless in a SM army? No. Is it hard to fit them in because of their increased expense? Yes but they aren't craptastic like the Thunderfire/Whirlwind/LotD/VV/etc.

Mal said...

Devs like most units need to be used properly to see their effectiveness. Far too many SM players simply end up throwing them away and I feel this is where a large part of their bad rep comes from.

Yes they are expensive, painfully so, but that doesn;t mean they can't get their points back if you use them properly.

Essentially it all comes down to target prioity which is where most SM players have a problem, they mix and match their dev unit thinking a mix of AT and AI weaponry will make them more useful... it doesn't. If you need a mix use ML or mabey even PC (I personally don't like that option), if you want AI use HB if you want AT use LC, but use them enmasse (i.e. 4 of the same gun to a unit).

SneakyDan said...

Thats exactly my point AP - you have to put the cost in perspective. Is 3 x preds more resilient than 10 devs? Yes. Do the preds put out more shots? Again, yes. My main argument is that this critique portrays them as unusable, or near enough to it. Its not true. Side armor shots on a pred are hard to get, true, but not impossible, which immediately (and massively) lowers their resilience. With the prevalance of refused flank/mech armies, highly mobile forces with strong firepower, I think its worth remembering that lots of people bring ranged antitank, but they dont bring ranged anti-infantry (Ie cover busting stuff with low AP, which is fairly nonexistent in this game).

He's right, about them not being great, but they aren't bad per se. Just different.

Kirby said...

Mal, I'd avoid using the phrase 'getting their points back.' It was a bad concept in 4th edition and has finally been squashed in the mainstream as people have realised a unit doesn't have to kill its points worth to have been useful on the battlefield.

Most players have target priority issues, not just Sm players in general but what you're saying is not target prioity but unit composition. Devs of all armies should pretty much always use MLs. Cheap(ish) and effective at both anti-infantry and anti-tank although the LC is useful when Logan is attached for SW :P.

Mal said...

The phrase 'getting your points back' is misunderstood... it doesn't in fact mean your working on VP.

What it means is this: 'is the unit earning their place in the army'.

i.e. if I spend 300 points on a unit that routinely kills 100 points worth of my opponents force, then they are not earning their place and I am not 'getting their points back'.

Its a measure for how effective a unit in in comparison to their points cost, akin to pointshammer.

lehcyfer said...

A 100pts unit can take brunt of enemy fire saving the 300pts unit from decimation which then kills 500pts - then it earned its points well

Kirby said...

@Mal; which is what I just explained is bad. I don't care if my scouts + motf kill jack shit if they camp an objective and win me the game 1-0. My Tervigon is unlikely to ever kill 200+ points of stuff but you're saying buffing all gants within 6" and producing Gants for roughly 2-3 turns is bad because it didn't earn it's points back?

See what I mean by old-fashioned and bad? It's not a measure of how effective a unit is because we don't look at a unit's effectiveness based on how much it killed. If we did, Scouts would still suck, too.

Marshal Wilhelm said...

'Earning their place' is being effective in the army, whether it comes in a neat "Unit X removed 500 pts of baddies" or anything else such as:

preventing Termicide from MELTAing your Hammerhead by 'clogging'
preventing Raider+Deathstar from waltzing into your forces by 'move-blocking'
shutting down spells with psy hoods
holding an Objective that wins you the game
Being a fire magnet that takes way to much killing and allows the rest of your guys to carry the field [which is why I want Vindis to work ^^]
Tar-pitting or Dread-locking an expensive unit with a cheaper unit
Shake/stunning vehicles with shooting
Area denial

VT2 said...

150 points for 4 regular missiles is a bad deal, especially when you have 85 point armor you can pick instead. 150 points buy you 15 hunter-killers, too.
150 points for 4 heavy bolters is also a very bad deal, because those come on far, far better platforms, called attack bikes, and you can have 3 of them for 120.

Lascannons are god awul for 35 points. Only warseer thinks they're of any use.

Plasma and melta is done better elsewhere.

You can make the squad 80 points more expensive, yes, and this means you'll last longer when being shot at. Cover doesn't matter. Everybody's got it, and means you have 4+ cover on them. Yay! Now they still die just as fast to small-arms and anything that's AP4.

So, uhh, why would I take devs again?

Kris said...

Because you can't get 4 missiles on that 85 point armor? Sure, you can take a bunch of HKs, but they're one-use only. Saying you can take 15 HKs is misleading, as you probably don't have 15 vehicles in any sort of reasonable point list.

Obviously, 115 for 4 missiles in the SW codex or 130 in the BA codex is better than 150 in the SM codex, but it's not horrible.

VT2 said...

But I can use those 150 points to put 15 missiles on my vehicles, and they can move and fire them. Yes, they're one-use only, but devastators don't tend to last longer than two turns, anyway.

Actually, it's more likely to be 11~ killers, and a handful of combis, because - as you said - reasonable armies don't have that many vehicles, but if people argue for devastators (crazy idea), then it's only fitting someone breaks out the '15 hunter-killers'-counter.

Mal said...

Great blog ate my reply...

Pah, well hers a shortened version of it, I can't be bothered to type it all out again.

The example I gave above is but one of many conditions to determine the effectgiveness of any given unit in your army list, some of these conditions are easily measurable (such as my example above), others are less so (such as synergy). But if I was to ry to cover all possible conditions then i'd end up writing a book on the subject.

Not everyone uses every condition, but the conditions we do use all equate to the same thing. what this grand method is called is relative, im old school so I call it 'getting my points back', as I stated before this has nothing to do with VP (or even the idea of VP), its just a name. You call it something different im sure, some call it mathhammer, some theoryhammer (its a part of both, but as I stated, the name doesn't matter).

So you see while this method is inherently old school, its only bad if you use a highly limited number of conditions to determine the effectiveness.

Kris said...

I don't know who you're playing where your devs only last two turns, especially when sitting in cover. Most games, people are dealing with the forward threats as best they can, and while supporting fire is annoying it's not necessarily a priority threat.

I agree with your main point, that in a mech environment Devastators aren't great. For the points, there are things you can get that are better. However, it doesn't mean that they're useless or inept, like many of your other "bad" units. I'd consider them "poor" or "non-optimal," but not "bad."

Mafty said... cant just generalize like that. devs do better in less armor lists because adding 3 units of armor to a foot army doesnt make sense. Also, devs really arent vulnerable to being 1 shot killed like a pred is. Preds make more sense when your trying to saturate the table with armor. I think the 85 point vs 150 point comparison is bunk anyways......autocannon + HB =/= compare to 4 ML anyday.

Youve also missed the part where I can fire 12 ML into 6 different targets thanks to combat squads. can your preds do that? no....they cant

Lyracian said...

Where is the new comment system?

I would rate Missile Devs as average; with any other weapon bad.

When I play as Marines I usually kill half the opponents heavy weapon unit on the first turn. As Tyranid it is a bit harder as I have to wait for genestealers to arrive and eat them.

A Dozen H/K Missiles is three turns of Dev shooting all at once. So I can see what that is a more attractive option if you already have a lot of tanks. Weakness is they can only shoot at targets you are already shooting at...

Matt Varnish said...

Here is something that MIGHT make the Thud Cannon more useful: It is crewed by a techmarine right? Does that not mean you can Bolster a piece of terrain? Just asking.

Lyracian said...

@Matt Varnish, sure you can stick your cannon in a ruin for a nice 3+ cover save; providing you have such terrain on your side of the table.

As a 25 point upgrade to a Techmarine Thud Cannon is quite cheap. If you can use that Techmarine in your army go for it!

The problem is what does your Techmarine do when the gun is smashed? Wander over to predators and start fixing them? I would rather pay the extra 15 points for a Vindicator that can move and shoot. At least it's resistant to small arms fire and will draw fire away from my other units.

VT2 said...

I can generalize like that, actually.
You take 3 predators for 255, or you take 3 squads of devs with 4 missiles each for 450.

Now, one of these sucks away a lot of points, and puts 15 foot marines on the board. Foot marines are bad, and you want to have few or zero of them on the board at any given time.

Yes, space wolves can do this, and should, but space wolves aren't vanilla marines.

In a foot environment, devs still fail hard. I know this, because I was playing in one for a year, and used 3x5 devs. It's expensive, and not effective.
5 marines die when things shoot them, and even if the squad doesn't poof, you're losing something critical with each wound taken.

If you're 100% foot for the lulz or fail, take thunderfires instead. It at least destroys a unit before it's owned by small-arms.

fluger said...

I'll disagree on the Thunderfire Cannon. The only thing that makes it suck is that it can be counterfired. But if you place it in terrain (and if its ruins you can fortify...) its fairly rugged.

What it excells at is killing units that pop out of vehicles that are wrecked and the like. 4 blast shots onto packed units can do terrible things to them especially with its good strength.

The other thing about it is that it has crazy long range of 60", so you can stay out of range of a LOT of shooting and still do damage. Adds to survivability. Its also a tough kill point to get as you are most likely to lose the gun, not the guy, and he can just go and hide afterwards.

100 points is pretty cheap, and I can see the advantage of a dakka pred instead; but I think what it does is sorely underestimated by those who haven't used it well or seen it used well.

Kirby said...

@Mal; using a different definition from everyone does no one any favors. Getting your points back means getting yourpoints back which cannot be measured accurately for all units and is a useless concept in a game where you no longer line up and just beat face.

In regards to Devs; they don't work as well in SM lists for a couple of reasons beyond their increased cost compared to BA/SW. Vanilla don't doHybrid/Foot as well as BA/SW because of their lack of efficient MSU troops comparatively. 3 Preds generally fits so much better into a SM list than 3 Dev Squads. Comparing infantry and mech, each has their own advantages (can't get combat locked, can't get stun-locked, etc.) but I think Vt2's point is this can be done better in other books. yes you can use Devs in a list but there are generally better choices.

@fluger; the problem with the thunderfire is it is artillery and until GW fixes artillery, well they are just so glass cannony. At least other artillery sets can get 3 guns for similar prices to the one gun, expensive thunderfire. Break cover and you are very likely to destroy the thunderfire.

fluger said...

Yes, but its relatively inexpensive and gives you a great way of nuking units that are packed up after having their ride shot out from them.

Do I think they are the strongest choice? No. Do I think they can work if you build your list to fit them in? Yes.

Mal said...

Kirby I am honestly dissapointed in you now.

I have over 18 years of competative gaming experience to offer to this community yet you seem determined to make me feel unwelcome here... and why? over the name I use for my technique?

So what if people use that name for something else, I don't, and I have explained this.
Does the name make my technique any less effective? no, its just a name.

At the end of the day kirby, if you don't want me here all you had to do was say so.

Last thing before I sign off, a word of advice for everyone here, regardless of what anyone tells you over the internet, don't take it as gospel.
Every persons playstyle is different and every person uses their units slightly differently, what one persons finds bad, another finds useful.
Don't be afraid to try new things, proxy minis if you don't have them and play around with different lists, you never know you may find something new that works for you.

Kirby said...

You choose this to be disappointed over? Fair enough. Same if you don't want to post here. If I start rambling on about how Army A because it used to be Army A back in the day but really its Army B, don't you think it's going to cause just a weeny bit of confusion. Extreme but to the point.

If you want to use the term "getting your points back" for a complex system in which you analyse unit efficiency, go for it. Be prepared to explain yourself every single time though because it doesn't mean that in a literal sense. Was that in someway lost in the translation?

Let's try again. Again.

Getting your points back means can a unit kill enough points to have earned its place. This is what it means. Literally. You want to call it something else. I'm pointing out to everyone who reads this blog for advice, this is not the actual definition but your definition. The world streamlines things for a reason (compass points), don't make things more complex than they need to be.

VT2 said...

Sure, you can build your army around thunderfires. You can do it with legion, servitors, and devastators, too.

In all cases, it means taking lots (max out on them), so you get one good strike in, and they aren't disabled during the first turn. What the second turn?

Then you lose, because you spent all your points and important slots on subpar units.

xnukepunk said...

?? Take lots of thunderfires vs taking 3 preds? 1 pred isn't likely to last all that long either if it is actually providing something useful to the list. People prioritize targets. Your heavy choices kill transports and tanks from a distance vs rhino rushing up and metaing something. I typically use the rule of 2. If something is normally good enough to buy one of, I buy a second for redundancy. I typically use two thunderfires in my vanilla list and I use 2 long fangs in my sw lists. 2 dreads, 2 vindi's etc.

Victor said...

A good way to run devs is in a Rhino bunker:

5 Devs with 2 heavys (I use ML or PC depending of the rest of my list) and a naked Rhino.

150 pt. They cannot be supressed until the Rhino is destroyed.

And yes, you can put a tank in area terrain to give them cover, if there is any terrain piece large enough...

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