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Friday, September 17, 2010

Marine codex 'review' (#7): the emperor's finest

Terminators: good.

In many ways, terminators epitomize the marine nature - that of being expensive, reliable generalists, with a handy focus against infantry.

The big question, the one that's always going to be asked first, is: "Are terminators worth their huge cost?"
40 points apiece sure isn't light. After all, this is as much as a razorback, or almost a third of a naked sternguard squad.

Popular consensus - and forumitis - suggests that terminators are overpriced, and no longer fill a useful role. Popular consensus would also have you believe that mister Kantor is one of only two ways to make marines competitive, and that sternguard are 'no better than tacticals, because they still die as quickly as them,' so we're gonna ignore it.
Fact of the matter is, those 40 points buy you a lot more than they do for other armies. A terminator comes stock with 2+/5++, stormbolter, sergeant statline, and a powerfist. Not many units in the game get that, even if they splash more points (blinged tyranid warriors, nobz).

All things considered, 40 points for this isn't that big a deal, but what is a big deal is whether or not your army needs the game's ultimate generalists, and can spare elite slots on them.
Shockingly enough, the answer is often a big 'yes, indeed.'

Terminators are very difficult to shift, requiring lots of anti-tank guns to reliably take off, or massed amounts of small-arms.
Many armies have problems putting enough wounds on terminators to ensure they go away in a shooting phase, and even a small squad is going to stomp most targets flat if it reaches its destination.
Unlike other infantry at your disposal, terminators don't require a transport, move and fire at full effect, and beat up stuff just fine in combat. Because of this, they'll always have something to do, and only ever stop having an effect on battles once the squad's been completely and utterly destroyed.

Option-wise, you don't have a lot to pick between, but what you do get is kinda big.
Powerfists can be exchanged for chainfists, and one guy can take an assaultcannon, cyclone launcher, or a heavy flamer. Should you invest in 5 extra terminators, you can take another big gun.
Heavy flamers are very cheap, but since terminators only move 6 inches a turn, they don't make good platforms for these, plus needing 10 men for two is generally bad. There's also the fact that you're paying a premium for a unit that's supposed to be firing every turn, not turn 3 at the earliest.
The assaultcannon turns the squad into a decent anti-tank unit, is the same range as the stormbolters, and helps scythe down infantry at a very fast rate. Effective and solid in general, but knee-jerk reactions to its 4th edition glory have rendered it expensive.
Cyclones are what they are: two shot missile launchers. Frag or krak, obviously enough. For one reason or another, this thing has sucked since 3rd edition, but is now very good. So good, in fact, it should be your primary choice. Unfortunately, unless you started marines in 5th edition, you aren't likely to own the pieces necessary to create krak- and frag missile-spamming terminators.
In addition to this, one terminator squad gets to field a land raider as its dedicated transport. Yes, 'raiders that don't use up predator slots. Sometimes handy - most of the time, not so much.

Because of what they are (reliable, well-protected, constantly moving infantrymen, that happen to be relentless, and carry anti-chump guns in general), terminator squads are the army's best platform for assaultcannons.
Terminators happen to be the primary source of chainfists, too - a weapon that used to be very useful and necessary, but the need for it's greatly diminished in 5th edition.

Default terminator squad is 3 regular terminators, a power sword sergeant (sir 'spare wound for the assaultcannon'), and a terminator with assaultcannon and chainfist. Yes, you know this to be true. It's okay.
This clocks in at 235 points, and it takes a silly amount of firepower to remove the whole squad in one turn of shooting - more so than most people are willing to commit.
Remember, the more anti-tank that's thrown the terminators' way, the happier your armor becomes.
Like everything else in your army, you want saturation. Never take small units. Make them large, then combat squad instead. This gives you more elite slots to play with, and fewer sir SWFTAC.

Also, consider the terminators' combat presence.
Your powerfists make you dangerous to 'hard' targets, and will instant-kill most of them. Armor is really not a problem for terminators, either, and your nature makes it challenging to remove the squad up close with grunts - requiring specialists or enemy elite infantry to deal with.
Yes, people will point and say their elite infantry doesn't sweat terminators, but the truth is, they do. Unless you can torrent them away safely, something more expensive than the terminators (every other unit of elite infantry, ever) is going to die.

"But what about deep strike!" It's bad. Don't use it. That's not good enough of an answer?
You're a shooting unit, so coming in turn two at best isn't good or smart. Not only does this mean less shooting for you, but less dakka thrown at the terminators, so more against your armor. No, keeping at least 10% of your army's points off the table doesn't 'catch anyone by surprise.'

In all honesty, and all things considered, the one thing keeping terminators away from greatness is the competition, and being able to sweep beaten enemies.

What makes it good: very durable and killy. Almost flawlessly reliable. Is an actual combat unit. Terminators are the middle ground between sternguard and assault terminators, capable at both combat and shooting, but focusing on neither.

What makes it bad
: expensive. Arbitrary ten-man restriction on heavy weapons make the squad much less useful. The addition of combat squads make this a bit easier to deal with.


Assault terminators: great.

There are not ordinary terminators, no! For these are assault terminators - the gold standard all combat units are measured against, and the finest of the finest - for the points.
This far into 5th edition, and for the price, there are no comers.

Options first, to get the boring stuff out of the way.
One squad of assault terminators can run a land raider as a dedicated transport. Good? Bad? Mostly good.
Claws: these give more attacks, failed wound re-rolls, and that's all. "HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT'S ALL!? ARE YOU MAD!?" Next up...
Hammer and shield: congratulations. Your terminator has ascended, and is now a super saiyan terminator. Hammer and shield give these powers; strength 8, 3++ (the new black!), and anything wounded by your hammers - as opposed to 'outright killed' - becomes initiative 1 for the next turn. This is the combo you want. This is the gear tha matters, that's important, and puts the fear in the opponent. Pretend the claws don't exist, alright? Good.

Oh, and all your combat attacks, regardless of weapons, ignore armor saves.

So, assault terminators. What's there to say?
They beat face on anything - in particular, very heavy armor, elite infantry, and all monsters ever, no matter how large or small - and take ridiculous amounts of punishment to down.

"Deep strike them? Pleaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaase, mister VT2, madam/sir?" Yes.
But that's plan B.

"What's plan A?"
Assault terminators, henceforth known as hammernators, have a serious issue: speed.
6 inches a turn, even with the d6 from run, isn't enough to get them anywhere. Being shot at isn't nice, either.

Plan A is: "stuff 5 to 8 hammernators a inside land raider crusader. The Crusader will now drive towards the enemy, tossing out lots of firepower while doing so, and, before long, the crusader will deliver hammernator death straight into the opponent's lines."
A moment passes, then the elite-infantry unit you charged will explode into little pieces.
That's plan A.

Deep striking is plan B, and it sucks. Relying on deep strike is bad, bad, bad - almost Chronus levels of bad.
Plan B: "hammernators sit in reserve, and there are empty beacon 'pods dropped near the opponent's elite-infantry." Tigurius elevates plan B to 'might just work.'

Plan B should only be considered if you don't own any crusaders.
It's no secret that hammernators demand a 250 points crusader tax, or the squad won't serve you at peak efficiency.

Regardless, anything hammernators engage in combat will die - instantly, or over several brutal turns of horrible slaughter.
By far the finest combat unit available in the book - if not the game as a whole.

Adding Vulkan to the army makes this unit even more mindblowingly awesome.

What makes it good: with a crusader, lots of hammertime will be had by all your opponent's units. Destroys most targets on the charge.

What makes it bad: costly, extremely so. Pay the land raider crusader tax of 250, or they won't get to do much stabby, and there's not likely to be any hammertime.

24 pinkments:

Snugger said...

What are your thoughts on using Terminators as a bubble? I've seen both Stelek and Kirby toss in assault terminators on foot in their lists, that will march forward as a threat that cannot be ignored. Are really the hammernators better for this than normal terminators with cyclones?

Chumbalaya said...

I've used normal Termies as a bubble. They don't hold up as well to assault units, but more dakka and midfield presence is plenty good.

Anonymous said...

I've got 2 questions about the regular termies:

1. Why Assault Cannon over the Cyclone Missile Launcher? Wouldn't the longer range mean you'd be getting more shots off over the course of a game?

2. Why put the Assault Cannon and Chainfist on the same model? 1 failed save on him and youve lost both =(

GreyICE said...

@Snugger - yes. A Vendetta can do in 80 points of terminators without blinking. Good luck doing in more than 40 in a round of shooting, and some days you'll do in zero. Moreover, the advancing bubble just has annoying tension. On one hand, terminators are great in CC. On the other, cyclones are great in the shooting phase. Assault have no such drawbacks - they like to run forward, they don't get vendettad off the board. Meaningless? Well, it takes 120 flashlight shots to take them out. Normally, it takes just 8 las cannon shots, but assault terminators take an ungodly 15 las cannon shots to make go away.

There's just no real good way to make them go away fast, outside of burna boyz (and those are... meh).

Thor said...

Assault Cannon is a reasonable anti-armor weapon with 4 shots, S6 and the chance to rend means light armor is toast and can threaten, albeit with luck, even a Land Raider. Of course it's great at tearing up infantry. Even with the shorter range you'll probably still have a target in the first turn, barring night fight. Plus, Termies are a great platform for the weapon itself.

I think his idea is that basically the other Termies are wounds for the assault cannon/chainfist model. Spreading those weapons out lets you wound abuse the unit but also means more chance to lose something valuable.

Master Darksol said...

I've seen a combination of 2x TH/SS, 3x LC groups advocated around the blog... would you say this is inferior to taking 5x TH/SS?

Anonymous said...

Master, ask yourself, "against what opponent/unit would you REALLY prefer the LC/5++?" I think you can answer your own question.

fluger said...

The bane of TH/SS terminators is units that put out a lot of wounds. They certainly won't walk through even 30 hormagaunts with toxin sacs.

Orks also mulch them in a grind.

I think comboing LC and TH/SS terminators is a more versatile option.

In terms of regular terminators, I think running a full 10 strong squad with two cyclones, then combat squading it and putting 5 regular guys (maybe one chainfist?) in the dedicated land raider, while you walk (or stay in cover for the save) with the other five, shooting things with krak.

Over all though, agree, this is one of the main strengths of the SM 'dex (as they have a true discount on TH/SS) and with Vulkan...epic.

VT2 said...

Assaultcannon pretty much because you have the model, and dont want to shell out retail for a new box o' terminators, or put down 15-25 god damn dollars for the pieces at a bitz store.

Also, terminators really are the best platform for it.
Speeders do missiles much better, and give you a heavy bolter, too.

The AC/CF is because that's how most people have their squads configured. Yes, you - and you.

Bubble terminators are nice, but expensive. Need to be playing 2k or more for it to be effective, and have a build for them. Can't just plonk them down in front of things and expect everything to take care of itself.

Always hammer, all the time.
Claws are for wolves and black templars. Marines get 3++ and strength 8 for 40 points. God damn, that's a steal.

AbusePuppy said...

Bleh, I've never been impressed by the AC. Yes, yes, it has very fancy numbers, but it's unbelievably random and does poorly against AV11 and 12, which are what I usually want to be killing. I'll take a CML (which lets you shoot your Storm Bolter as well, if you're killing infantry) over the AC any day. SW has taught us that there's no such thing as enough missile shots.

All TH/SS units seem more for being a "hammer" that tears through hard stuff, obviously; 2 TH/3 LC is usually something you'll do if you're playing Angels, since they get to strike before basically everyone on the charge and ruin things to cut down on the number of hits you take.

Anonymous said...

Aye... what AP said. LCs are useful if you're playing BA or BT and have access to Furious Charge. BTs especially as any list with terminators usually has Preferred Enemy so re-rolling hit and wounds rolls with ini5, str5 power weapons is some serious nastiness.

As we're talking 'nilla marines, stick with the Thunder/Shield variant.

I kinda have to disagree with the addition of a land raider to make them better. It is entirely dependent upon the list and if anything tends to make the list more unbalanced.

Another form of transport that maybe should have been considered is Gate of Infinity. Although you can't assault from the movement, it gives termies a great deal more more mobility.

I think other marine variants also do shooty termies better too (SW and BT), but as a few people have stated, they do an 'ok' job.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
VT2 said...

Gate means exposing your 2 wound, toughness 4 guy to combat against monsters, characters, and elite infantry, where he will be singled out by hidden powerfists.

It's strictly for moving around shooting units.

fluger said...

Agree with AP, Assault Cannon is MEH compared to CML. Remember, you still have the storm bolter with the CML, so you still have 4 shots on one guy (2 S4, 2 S8) for dealing with infantry.

The benefit in terms of doing wounds with a TH/SS terminator vs a LC terminator is only a difference of ~8% against T4 targets (TH wounds 83.3%, LCs wound 75%), and the LCs actually wound T3 targets better (88.8% vs 83.35). Factor in the bonus attack and LC terminators are clearly better at killing most infantry.

Obviously, TH/SS is way more survivable against AP2 and power weapons, but those are in limited supply per unit. Most enemies are only going to be packing a max of 3 meltaguns in a BS4 package. Probably on 2 wounds at AP2 from that, both can go on the TH/SSes who can pass relatively easily. When dealing with torrents of non-AP2 shooting, both save the same.

Yes, FC makes LCs more desirable in other 'dexes. But I think a mix of 2 LCs and 3 TH/SS makes the unit more versatile.

However, going all TH/SS isn't a bad choice, just a different one; and we agree that assault terminators are one of the best buys in the SM dex.

VT2 said...

No one's saying the missile is inferior to the assaultcannon, but people are saying you're not likely to shell out the money for it, and the AC is still a solid weapon.

No need to pull out the mathhammer.

fluger said...

The mathhammer was for TH/SS vs LC...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering VT2 =)
I have a pile of ravenwing sprues from the battleforces, so i was planning to use the typhoon launchers off one to make a CML for my black reach termies. I've got an AC for them too so I'll give them both a try.

Marshal Wilhelm said...

How to deal with Terminators?
I am asking as well as putting up some thoughts.

20 Bolter shots
1.1 dead Terms = squashed unit next turn.

Black Templars FC Assault Terms
20 a - 15 hit - 13.3 wounds - 8.8 dead 5++ Terms
or 4.4 dead 3++ Terms
So if you can get the charge off, they get ripped.
2.8 dead 3++ Terms if the get charged *sad face*


Basically you have to delay the transport with move-blocking.
Shoot them with side arms.
Shoot them with ap 1-2 weapons [and using your ap3-4 weapons on his transports]
Clog him up with none armoured things [as you're just paying points for him to ignore that armour] and try to take the unit out of the game without necessarily killing them.


VT2 said...

Dealing with enemy terminators?

Well, depends on the type.
Modern shields, or not modern shields? If no modern shields, plasmabacks, command squads, and combi-melta sternguard sort them out. Venerable dreads with plasmacannon also works.

If they have shields, nullzone them, then unleash the above.

While it's true that you can hose them, this isn't an effective use of your small army.

Land raider transport?
Deep strike speeders, drive sternguard up to it, or so on.
Just remember, once slagged, the terminators aboard are gonna kill whatever took their wheels away.

VT2 said...

Cleared up a lot of 'minor issues' - that aren't minor to me - and now the article looks worlds better.

The comments and the 'likes' make this the most popular marine article yet.
Dreads next.

AbusePuppy said...

The main problem with using LCs vs. TH/SS is you lose a HUGE amount of survivability. The 3++ is what makes them so scary- there simply aren't any weapons in the game (bar some very specialized and overpriced melee attacks) that can deny them a good save. With LC, you give this up for a bit more killing power against infantry, but against most of those targets you would be better off applying force from other parts of your army rather than trying to equip your Terminators to be generalists in that regard.

I'm surprised that basic Terminators got as good a rating as they did- standard Marines don't really need them most of the time. The can make a decent counterassault unit, firing off their CML and advancing with the rest of the force while still threatening a ton of PF wounds if anything gets close, but they can be killed much more easily than assault terminators can, which may not be a very good tradeoff for a couple of missile shots each turn.

Basically, normal Termies don't seem like a particularly good unit in the context of the Marine codex since most lists don't have a use for them.

Snugger said...

Converting up a couple of CML-terminators isn't that hard, as long as you're not afraid of a couple of snide remarks from your opponents:

1 - The typhoons from Dark Angels, as said already by Vallek, is a good supply. I would use only one launcher on a single terminator, since two imo looks too large.
2 - Slapping on a couple of spare HK missiles is another option. Or
3 - you could use the missile launcher from the Sentinel sprue. I find that one looks a bit better than a single typhoon launcher.
4 - The Havok launcher from the chaos vehicle sprue is also ok, though possibly also on the large side.
5 - My favorite is using the two chaos smoke launchers from the same sprue, slapped on side by side on top of the terminator. Sure, it rubs some people the wrong way, but I actually prefer it over the original CML model.

My .02$ in case anyone cares.

VT2 said...

It's the whole 'combat unit that endures damage, and shoots a lot'-thing that makes them rate in so highly.

If we count out normal terminators, your combat units are command squads, vanguard, and assault terminators.
Command squad is expensive, and requires a captain. Large games only, pretty much, and then you're not likely to have more than one.
Vanguard are what they are, so not usable.
Assault terminators destroy worlds, but can't shoot, and must pay the land raider tax.

B.Hudson said...

Great article. I'll never look at my Terminators quite the same way again. Thanks for pointing out the use of claws on BT CC Terms. When using BT, should you use a straight 5 claws, or a mix? The stunned crew/enemies only Init 1 on any hit that doesn't kill is really hard to pass up.

Also thanks for pointing out the fallacy of deep striking terms from reserve. That's something I'd always done so I could get them in to my enemies back w/o having to worry about working through any defenses that were set up, but in a 5 turn game I'm basically shelving my second best unit for 20% of the game. Really stupid when you look at it that way.

One last thing, if you need an extremely inexpensive solution to the CML issue, try here:

The turret is the perfect size and looks "right", and they're only $0.77 each, and shipping is pretty much a non-factor using USPS.

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