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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Marine codex 'review' (#8): dreads.


Dreadnought: good.

105 point multi-purpose weapon platform, with decent combat presence as far as marines go. Can mount the same or bigger versions of most weapons available to tactical- and sternguard squads, but ends up rarely using most of them, for reasons that will be discussed below.

Default equipment is a dinky stormbolter, multi-melta, and a dreadnought battle implement. Yes, this indeed only costs 105 points.
Yes, it's a walker platform, with sergeant statline, and armor 12 in the facings that matter. That's a good deal.

In the distant past of pre-2008, this was one of the game's worst units - being susceptible to death from krak grenades, plasmaguns, and other such silliness, while the feared and respected lascannon was almost guaranteed to destroy it.
These days, things have changed. Autocannons and equivalent only penetrate your armor 12 on 6's, and even then, still need 5 or more to kill you. You're also gonna get a cover save a lot of the time, so your durability is up several orders of magnitude.

Because dreads are walkers, they can actually move and fire their multi-melta. This makes them offensive tank hunters. Tactical squads dare armor to come close, while dreads actively seek it out.
Since there is no such thing as too much melta - mobile, long-ranged one, especially - this makes dreads very useful, and a great asset.

Of course, there's more.
You can replace the multi-melta with one of the following: linked heavy bolter, linked lascannon, plasmacannon, assaultcannon, linked heavy flamer, or linked autocannon. Obviously, lots of this is bad (linked heavy flamer, plasmacannon), expensive (linked lascannon), or done better on other, cheaper platforms (assaultcannon, linked heavy bolter).
Multi-melta's been covered already, and while it's pure good and great, the autocannon is actually much better, and far more useful to your army. How does that make sense?
Well, if you look over your armylist, and the codex as a whole, you'll notice a distinct lack of multi-shot, long-ranged, high-strength guns, that also happen to be available cheaply on mobile platforms. The only such gun on offer to marines is the autocannon, and it comes on a mere three platforms total: predators (should always have the turret version), venerable dreads (next up), and the regular dreadnought.

No, unfortunately, the fabled autoback doesn't exist yet, and scouts lost their ability to take autocannons during 4th edition, so those are the three platforms you have to work with.

Dreads being what they are (accurate heavy armor walkers, immune to small-arms, and immune or resistant to most anti-infantry), means they're excellent platforms for autocannons. You can move into terrain without risk, maintain a steady advance, and unlike many similar units, you have hard armor protecting you, some combat power, and your gun is twin-linked.
As has been established in earlier articles, light armor hates autocannons, and heavy armor doesn't like it much, either - especially not the kind that's linked, and can easily score side shots.

It doesn't end with the one linked autocannon, however.
Because GW loves you, you have the option of swapping your dread implement out for another autocannon.
Yes, you can take a missile launcher instead, or upgrade your stormbolter to a heavy flamer, but is that really what you want? Most of the time, the answer is a big 'no.' In all honesty, there's some merit in the heavy flamer, but the launcher is just a joke, and should be avoided.
Yeah, you can drop pod your dread, and watch it die to meltaguns. No, this still isn't a good idea, but if you absolutely must have pods in your list for one reason or other, get them from dreads, and drop them empty.

While not exactly badass killingmachines in combat, not many armies are equipped to deal with armor 12 walkers that assault them. "BUT ORKS HAVE POWERKLAWS!" 4's to hit, 5's to penetrate, 5's to destroy. 6 explodes the dread, kills a lot of boyz, and makes the orks cry.
This is 5th edition. Armor is still armor.

Despite being such a good deal in general, there are two big issues with dreads. The first, and biggest, is that dreads aren't really a good problem-solver for combat, and that's partially what you need your elites for. The dread is directly competing with both terminator flavors for a spot, and it tends to lose a lot of the time. Second, sternguard are just plain hardcore, wrecking everything in a firefight, putting more armor on the field, and better at combat.

Fear not, for all isn't lost.
Adding a master of the forge lets you take dreads as heavy support - essentially, less predators, but more dreads - and combat squads permit you to turn a large, elite infantry squad into two smaller pseudo-squads, so you can still have your two 'units' of terminators/sternguard, and toss in some dreads.

Default dread is 115 points, has a linked autocannon, stormbolter, and dread weapon. In case you didn't know, this is great, and almost every other army out there would kill for this.
Add to this the fact that you can take another autocannon for 10 more points, and it's just the competition that keeps the regular dread from being an automatic include.

Dreads with 2x linked autocannons are the ultimate in light armor removal, and massed fire can take down heayv armor, too.

What makes it good: cheap and effective. Linked autocannons. Reliable and fairly durable for the cost. Best unit at your disposal for dealing with light arnor. Strength 10.

What makes it bad: competition. Not adequate in combat, which is what you normally expect from your elites slots.

-

Venerable dread: bad.

The regular dread got sad that torrents of anti-tank fire hurt him, so he went and fetched daddy dread.
Daddy dread does everything junior does, but much better. The problem is, he charges 60 more points for his services, and that's not quite what +1 ballisticskill and weaponskill is worth in the real world.

Everything said about regular dreads apply to venerables.

The main difference lies in the 'venerable' rule. This thing grants re-rolls for damage results - something that makes it very hard to kill daddy.
Daddy is also a great shot with his plasmacannon, but giving daddy linked guns is a waste.
Thus, venerables shoot things with plasmacannons, and pack a heavy flamer. Extra armor is good for daddy, so he keeps moving.

Indeed, daddy is the best plasmacannon platform in the book. He's so good, he'll rarely miss.
Too bad GW removed the old veteran skills.
They didn't even give daddy an option for ignoring cover saves, or any extra abilities.

God damn.

Only ever take these if you have old, metal models, with an assaultcannon, or want some plasma templates.
Heavy flamer is sometimes a nice upgrade, but hitting 2's with your default stormbolter is nice, too.

For fun, give daddy a matched pair of autocannons, and watch him do his son's job - only at a much greatee cost in points.
Guess his experience and age mean we has to be paid in liquid gold.

Bah.

What makes it good: extremely hard to kill. Very accurate plasma blasts. WS 5 means it hits prettty much everything on 3's. If you want plasmacannons, you're gonna have to field venerable dreads

What makes it bad
: Horribly overpriced, and missing a lot of components that could have made i great.




Ironclad dreadnought: bad.

A more costly dreadnought, that only works at peak efficiency when it's in melta-range. By far GW's finest creation.
Take away the autocannons, replace them with an extra attack, raise the points cost with 30 points, increase armor 1. There - you have an ircnclad dread.

Main problem is, of course, that this is an armored vehicle that wants to rape things in combat. Yes, it's got armor 13, but meltaguns don't care if you're armor 10 or 14 - they will penetrate you, and AP1 will make you bleed. Since you're running into range of them, well - no.

Options, options.
You start with a dread weapon, and a special dread weapon that adds +1 to damage rolls against armor. One of these has a meltagun built-in, the other has a stormbolter. For the expected price, you can replace either or both guns with heavy flamers. Very standard fare.
For the price of nothing, you exchange the regular dread arm and its stormbolter for a 'hurricance' bolter - 3 linked bolters. Good? Bad? Kinda acceptable.
Then there're the hunter-killers. Each ironclad can take two, and if you want them at all, you'll add two,
Some grenades, too, and that's it. Might be worth it if you're playing on crowded tables.
For added fun, you can replace the +1 damage dread weapon with a chainfist. No, you don't want an initiative 1 dread, so pretend this option doesn't exist.

Ignoring everything said above, there are some redeeming qualities. Yes, there are. Here.
You can give it two hunter-killers, and 3 linked bolters. As long as you mind your distance, hug cover, and don't do stupid things, like trying to rush meltasquads, those 3 bolters will never stop firing, and anything that gets close likely ends up slagged by the ironclad's meltagun.
Double heavy flamer can be used as disruption. We're calling this "Hunt my move-through-cover-dread through terrain!!" Pray tne hunters don't have meltaguns, then go crazy jumping from forest to forest, burning infantry to death.

'Default' ironclad has super-special-awesome dread weapon, 3 linked bolters, two krak missiles, the arm's built-in meltagun, and probably grenades.

And the big one
Yeah, go right ahead. Go on! Put it in a deathwind pod.
You know you want to.
Do it.

What makes it good: pretty mucn invulnerable to everything that's not a lascannon, or stronger. People tend to not shoot at these, at all. 3 linked bolters is fair dakka, as is your meltagun, and a handfull of missiles.

What makes it bad: it's a walker that must get close to beat face. Close equals melta. Melta means death for the dread. Fail.

Ed: this one will suffer some rewriting later, when I have time. The VT2 is not pleased with its current incarnation.

14 pinkments:

Marshal Wilhelm said...

I think it is important on the MM Dread [and even the Ironclad with Mg] to have a HF.

Only B-Talons dreads rip through infantry in mêlée. DCCW are great for popping even hardcore things like TWC, MegaNobz, etc. but against grunts [below Tacs] the rate that you kill them versus their cost means the Dread gets tar-pitted.
The HF whoosh could kill 5 infantry, something that would take the Dread at least 2 turns in mêlée.
s5 means you can shoot av10 stuff too. Not brilliant, but a nice hors d'oeuvre above and beyond its Infantry killing roll.
HF also offsets, somewhat, charging into or operating around cover *whoosh*

I look forwards to tl AC for Templars, and hope they get something like the Ironclad or Furioso.

+++

On the Ironclad:
Whilst marching into MELTA range is not great, if you can coincide it with something else getting there too, such as Hammernators, I feel they pressure is reduced on the Marine player.
i4 s10 attacks will do better against vehicles than s8 and, as always, having staggered initiative attacks reduces incoming attacks against slow guys. Hammernators ARE tough, but anything you can do to lighten the incoming heat is always a good thing.
You might just finish off that Carnifex, etc.

AbusePuppy said...

Is the TLAC/DCCW Dread seriously even usable? I've never seen anyone run one and they don't seem all that useful. 105pts for an autocannon each turn? Not really impressive. Sure, it can defend itself in melee a bit better, but so what? Either take that second AC and be a specialist or keep the MM so you can at least wreck heavy armor.

I'm still of the opinion that Heavy Bolters are trash. They're Autocannons that can't threaten MEQs, MCs, or light armor. Even twin-linked doesn't make them worthwhile here.

The Las/Missile variant that a lot of people run isn't mentioned but is worth discussing in specific. It's bad (as implied by its nonpresence in the article) because it's expensive and is only a mediocre armor hunter while still being very vulnerable to return shooting.

Ironclads are ridiculously tough in melee- the trick is getting them there. Double-flamers is interesting, but I think I'd rather keep the Meltagun. Hurricane Bolter is cute, but I'm of the opinion that you really shouldn't be shelling out that many points for a small number of shots like that. Hunter-Killers are interesting because it's a platform that can come in on a Drop Pod (in this case you don't necessarily need to be right behind the enemy in melta range.)

Marshal Wilhelm said...

I don't like the Hurricane bolter. You are relegating the IC to being a poor infantry killer, whilst it tootles around 6"

HFx2 seems unwise to me. A Mg is a beautiful thing, giving you a chance to open that transport before they get mugged by the IC, could give you the edge before assaulting another Dread, and can insta-kill annoying t4 things.
But you do need 1 HF to offset the lack on kill-quantity the Dread has for other things.

lyracian said...

I like Dreads, so usually take a few in my Marine lists. I have been finding the DCCW is lacking in usefulness as they just can not kill enough in combat so I'm planning to build myself some Autocannon arms.

As for the primary weapon I am surprised to see you dismiss the Plasma cannon so easily! It is still strength 7 and while it is less effective against armour the AP 2 Blast it is much better at killing MEQ and hordes.

VT2 said...

I don't like ironclads, periods.
They want to get in meltarange so they go poof faster.

It's hurricane or melta-death, pretty much.
Alternatively, take a venerable/regular dread with autocannons instead.

Remember, the cannon scatters, and you get cover now.
When I run them, I do so on the venerable. That way, it's gonna keep firing, and hiiting.

Heavy bolters for 105 points are bad. For 40? Excellent.

Linked las is just a stupid joke on all of us. So you pay 30 points, and your dread becomes worse at killing armor? Okay.
So funny, Mat Ward!

Lyracian said...

With BS 4 Plasma Cannon gets 2" or less scatter 60% of the time. It is about 1/3 as effective against AV 11 as the TL Autocannon, but 4 times better at killing MEQ or Terminators. I find it a wonderful weapon for taking out Heavy Weapon teams even with cover.

Dezzo said...

ANGRY MARINES KICK ASS!!!!

Kris said...

Disagree with the Ironclads. Yes, they don't like meltas. Neither do any other vehicles. However, that AV13 is great in combat - they can hold up things like TH/SS terminators much longer than a regular Dread, and things that rend have issues doing anything - and the extra attack is actually really useful since most of the time you're hitting on 4s.

When combined with multiple other armor threats advancing up the field, the threat from meltaguns is lessened - not to mention not all armies have massed melta, or even melta at all. The AV13 is good against massed autocannons and even missile launchers compared to AV12. HK missiles can give it a ranged presence. They're great at busting other vehicles with the hammer giving +1 on the chart. They have a role that can be played in a given army. I would probably rate them as ok or good rather than poor.

VT2 said...

But armor 13 that wants to get into combat is gonna expose itself to melta.
That's a fact of life, and why the ironclad is such fail.

I'm not all that much into mathhammer, but something tells me a rifleman dread in cover is gonna be lots more durable than ironclads rushing people for rapin' time, and have a much greater influence on the game, since you can't ignore them for two turns.

Kris said...

In theory, for the one turn the Dread is exposing itself to melta, you're smoked. So at least half of those shots will bounce off. Note also the free extra armor, so they can't just stun-lock the dread and keep it from charging them. If they melta and fail to immobilize or kill it, they're in charge range.

VT2 said...

When was the last time you saw multiple meltaguns or equivalent fail at killing a target within melta-range?

Kirby said...

Yesterday lol. It happens so bloody often!!!!!!

Kris said...

Quite often, actually, especially when there's armor saturation. Having played a 6-dread list with 3 ironclads, it happens fairly regularly. Doesn't mean I don't hold my breath every time someone shoots at me, but it's not exactly a forgone conclusion either.

LegenMythMan said...
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