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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Marine codex 'review' (#5): transports.

Rhino: great.

Look at that paper armor, the pea shooter weapon, no option for bigger gu- 35 points for a transport!?
I'll take one for every squad, thank you very much.

Yes, people, it's true. A rhino indeed only costs slightly more than two tactical marines. Fun fact: ork trukks also cost 35 points, and are nowhere near as durable and useful.

While armor 11 may not look like much, it actually is. 11 is enough to make you immune to all but one basic gun in the game, and grants resistance to most anti-infantry. Strength 5 is likely to patter harmlessly off your rhinos, but strength 6 is still a threat - just not a major one. Pentrating hits on 6's doesn't make your armor sweat.

The fact that you're indeed 11 front and side means you can do all sorts of tricks with your transports, since your actual facing doesn't matter that much.
A handful of rhinos can setup literal walls, blocking off access to parts of the table, and keeping units behind them safe from enemy infantry. You can 'plug' holes in defensive perimeters with them, too, as well as pillbox infantry.

That last point is what makes the rhino such a good thing to have.
Tactical squads on foot are slow, vulnerable, and immobile. Putting them inside rhinos makes them immune to all those small-arms that would normally plink off two or three marines a turn, while also making them twice as fast, and much more mobile.
Because the rhino has two firepoints, you can actually shoot your two important guns from within the safety of your transport.

A drive-by from twin heavy flamer sternguard is a very exciting thing to endure, as is tactical rhinos setting up multi-melta bunkers midfield, daring armor to come closer.
Bunkering sternguard with twin lascannons is lovely, too - same with librarians and their five man assault squad buddies performing sternguard-styled drive-by's on weakened infantry.

No matter what you want to accomplish, adding rhino-mounted infantry (the non-tactical squad kind that's in addition to your two meltabunkers) to the effort is only ever a good thing.

Unlike other armies, you get extremely cheap transports for almost all squads. The fact that they don't have real weapons bolted on is of little concern, since the squad carried will have more than enough that can be used from the hatch.

The discount-costed rhino (and its improved variants) is one of many reasons why marines are so good in 5th edition. You can simply put more armor on the field than many opponents can deal with.

Mount up, roll out, and never look back.

What makes it good: very cheap, very flexible, and very useful transport. You want all your infantry to be in these.

What makes it bad: limited firepower, and no serious options for adding more.

-

Razorback: great.

If you're willing to pay five more points, trade in your stormbolter, remove all firepoints, and lower your rhino's transport capacity to six, your warm box becomes an infantry fighting vehicle.

Initial equipment is a 'mere' linked heavy bolter (bolterback). That's some 'mere' armanent for a bargain priced transport, isn't it? Thought so.

Default gun is good - after all, there's no such thing as too much linked, long ranged AP4 firepower.
On the other hand, half the optional guns are not good, and should be avoided. Let's look at what's available.
Criminally overpriced heavy flamer, that lacks the ability to move and fire like you'd expect it to. Overpriced lascannon. Fairly costed assaultcannon. Note that all these guns are linked.

Lascannon is sometimes useful, but not often. After all, why take a linked lascannon razorback when it's much more effective to shoot two regular ones out of a rhino's top hatch?
The heavy flamer is what it is. Template. AP4. Can't move 12 inches and fire. No, thanks, and two heavy flamers from a rhino squad is much more dangerous.
Assaultcannon (assback!) is useful, but expensive. It's good on razorbacks because they're linked, fairly well-protected, draws fire away from small infantry squads, and razors happen to be one of few platforms for them.

That's all fun and cute, but not why we're here, is it?
Something that passes lots of people by is the option at the bottom. What's that? Linked plasmagun and a single lascannon? 35 extra points?
"Big deal," some say.

Many are under the impression that this load-out is weak, wimpy, not all that useful, or even special.
Name another transport with strength 7 and 9 guns, both AP2, that costs 75 points or less, and is available to almost all infantry in the codex. I'll wait.
Yes, you got that right. There's no other transport in the game with this much firepower. Yes, the ones that approach razors in firepower cost many times more. Yes, space marines get the most heavily armed transport in the game - period.

This dakka is nice on its own, but there's more to it than meets the eye - namely that razors are cheap, commonly available transports, so can be used for massed lascannon and plasma fire, relieving your infantry of plasma- and lascannon duty. More melta and flamer, in other words, with sacrificing needed AP2.
It also offers you a profoundly potent source of anti-elite infantry firepower. Few things in the game annihilate 'uber' units as quickly as massed pLASmabacks.

That said, 75 points is still not a light sum. Cheap for what you get, yes, but take too many, and your army will suffer.
A 2000 point army isn't likely to include more than three plasmabacks or assbacks, with additional transportation made up of a healthy rhino/bolterback mix.

What makes it good: cheap, effective, and ubiquitous. Default gun is inexpensive, and always a welcome addition. Excellent platform for assaultcannons, should you desire some. Plasmabacks destroy all types of infantry, and can hurt all types of armor. Extremely potent weapon against elite infantry.

What makes it bad: no firepoints. Low capacity makes it hard to use effectively with full tactical squads.

-

Drop pod: bad.

Paying a 35 point tax gives pretty much any and all infantry and walkers in you army the ability to deep strike accurately, and en-masse.
The benefits of doing this include being in the zone almost instantly, rear armor attacks with melta, heavy flamer action during the first turn, and contesting whatever objective you feel like.
Drawbacks include your marines now being on foot, your walkers dropping within melta-range, and since the 'pod is a transport that counts as having moved a whole, you can't assault out of it.

They're also one-use only - meaning, you can't step back inside the drop pod to hide.
This seriously shortens your expected lifespan.

Should your opponent be smart (he or she will be after the first time), you'll find that nothing gets deployed, but you're still forced to deploy your drop pods during the first turn.
Now you get a turn to move around some, then the opponent's reserves come in and - massive hurt.
It's a time-tested classic to deal with drop pods, and why black templars got their 'drop pod assault' upgraded to take place during the second turn. Unfortunately. this was downgraded in all more modern books, for reasons still unknown to this day.

As for the pod itself, it's an open topped armor 12 vehicle, which starts out immobilized, and wields a single stormbolter.
For a premium cost in points, you can upgrade the tiny gun into a range 12 rocket battery, that shoots large blasts. No, this really isn't a smart thing to put on pods that carry infantry.

"How do I make a range 12 gun work on this thing?" Easy.
Because pods are transports, and transports don't have to be deployed with their unit, you can deploy 'empty' pods, and keep the infantry in your deployment zone. Of course, this costs you a minimum of 55 extra points per squad, and the squads themselves will now be taking the field on foot. Don't do this, please.

An interesting option is locator beacons. This is a very nice piece of bling - really an upgraded teleport homer - that removes the scattter from any unit attempting to deep strike within 6.
Gating librarians, terminators, landspeeders, other drop pods, and even vanguard and assault marines benefit from this.

By far the best use for pods is as almost guaranteed objective contesters.
Drop an empty deathwind pod with a beacon on an objective, and watch as the opponent has to deal with the armor 12 brick. Of course, this cuts into your rhino- and razorback allowance, so still isn't that good, but it's something.

Overall, drop pods fail to impress. A high-tech rapid insertion vehicle, beaten out by a metal box with treads.

What makes it good: half of them automatically come down in the first turn. Gets dreads up close and personal with little hassle on the way there.

What makes it bad: the first rule is 'thou shalt never disembark from your steel coffin' for a reason. Dropping dreads within melta-range is self-defeating. Is quite obviously not a rhino, or a razorback, yet costs as much as the first, and more than both if it's given any upgrades.

12 pinkments:

Marshal Wilhelm said...

Though I'd been playing 40K for quite a while, I'd never really liked Transports. Since most of my games were against myself *owww* I liked to keep it simple. Jump packs and DS Terminators for the win!

Anyway, it was only since I'd started playing 5th ed that the blinkers came off and a few sites helped me out a lot.

Now running Rhinos and Razors for my Templars is the norm. Last game against Orks I managed to double box Ghazghkull out of the game and bashed up the rest of his forces and ignoring his shooty parts.
This was all because of the Increased speed and survivability that these transports bring.

I look forwards to Templars getting new Razors and cheap Rhinos, though 4+ smoke will be sad as will DPA Pods. Oh well!

Hopefully we get a Rhino that is FAST and/or with assault ramps.... ^^,

Chumbalaya said...

Agree in a big way.

Mech is king, baby.

fluger said...

We agree again, though I like pLASmabacks better with BA as you can move 6" and fire both.

I like Assault Cannon Razorbacks the best as they can either go after vehicles or infantry at need. Highly versatile.

Also, in regards to pLASmabacks vs pure TL Lascannon razors; I think that the ~22% increase in to hit percentage is worth it for long range attacks on vehicles, but the versatility of pLASmabacks can't be underestimated.

AbusePuppy said...

How are BolterBacks in any way good, even for basic Marines? You'd much rather have the fire point to shoot out of than some dorky little "I'm not even an autocannon" gun, and it doesn't seem to bring anything you want to the table. Yes, it's long range and has a decent RoF, but it's unlikely to actually do any damage to anything.

LasBacks vs. LasPlas is also a matter of vulnerability- it's far too easy for a TLLas to be shot off by a single hit, whereas the LasPlas is immune to this. (It also presents a difficult choice with regards to which gun to destroy for many opponents, since TLPlasma is not an ignorable threat.)

ACBacks are largely good because (if you're BA) you can move 12" and shoot your Good Gun. Marines, lacking this, don't have much reason to buy them.

Kris said...

Because bolterbacks give you torrents of S5 firepower. If you're taking them, you're probably taking 3-4, which lets you put wounds easily on things like Daemon Princes from decently far away and likely as not kill them in a single shooting phase. Twin linked HBs can do decent amounts of damage to squads and such - you're not going to kill everything, but after tanks are popped they're much more generally useful.

You're also taking them for different squads - not the 10-man bunkers with a multimelta, where the firing port matters, but 5-man squads who still only get out if they have to.

Kris said...

Related question - can you make a decent list from the basic codex without vehicles, and without bikers as troops? My only thought is a Shrike list with a decent amount of scouts, possibly 1st and 10th, with jump packs added in too.

VT2 said...

No armor means less mobility, and that all shots will go into infantry. Infantry dies, while vehicles take significantly more time to destroy.
Scatter lasers 'wounding' rhinos on 6's, then needing 5+ to destroy them, versus 'wounding' all your infantry on 2+, and you getting a 3+ save.
No, it's not gonna work without vehicles. Marines are the defacto mech codex. Taking Shrike and his cute terminator wing works a few times, then people realize how to beat it, and it's no longer fun. If you want foot marines, there's always space wolves, templars, and blood angels.

Assbacks are midfielders.
Twelve first turn, smoke. Move six and shoot dakka at things. Annoying to deal with lots of them.

Lasback is horrible. Take sternguard with two lascannons in a rhino instead.

Bolterback is god damn cheap. 40 points for a linked heavy bolter? Yes, please. You can almost get two for the price of a single plasmaback.

PLASmabacks are offensive tools, but need meltabunkers to secure midfield.

fluger said...

"Lasback is horrible. Take sternguard with two lascannons in a rhino instead."

But that's way more points... I like TL Lascannon 'Backs as transports for Long Fangs or Devastators. Provides long-range AT fire support and can, in a pinch, transport stuff. 75 points isn't much to spend on a TL BS4 lascannon shot and you can stay out of range of most things and should be projecting a lot more threat elsewhere with them.

lyracian said...

I think the issue is why take a Lasback when for the same cost you can take a Plasmaback? You loose out on the twin-linking but gain extra shots in the short to medium range and slightly more resilience to damage.

Kirby said...

What lyracian said. For the same points you get an extra 1-2 S7 shots at 12-24" and whilst you lose some mobility mid-late game to get those extra shots off, you'realso not screwed over by a single weapon destroyed result and still have a good chance of hitting with a S9 gun at range. When you start taking these guys en masse, that's a lot of extra S7 Ap2 shots incoming.

Stillfrosty said...

Lasplasbacks realistically are only good in a blood angels list or a space wolves list, as both armies can take special weapons in 5 man squads where regular marines can not.

Now I don't really use transports, but for regular marines it is all about the rhino.

VT2 said...

Plasmacks are deadly in marines armies, since properly built ones bring all the tools necessary for the plasmaback(s) to shine.

If you meant 'I think wolves and vampires can realistically bring more of them,' then you were right.

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