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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Email in: More Wacky Biker Thoughts - Plasma?

"Hey Kirby,

A ways back, I asked you about the viability of drop pod dreads backed by bikers in Codex: Space Marines, knowing full well that it was very likely to be a silly idea, and you were kind enough to shoot it down politely.

So here's another one (because I can never leave well enough alone)... Biker Command Squads with Plasmaguns.

I don't like plasma weaponry. I think it has its place in Tau armies and at high points-value games for whichever flavor of power armor you choose (when you need to be able to dish out more wounds), but it's like an autocannon that trades the ability to shoot on turn 1 for the ability to melt heavy infantry. (No, the whole "Gets Hot!" thing doesn't bother me, but it is like salt in a wound.) That said, I have to admit that a relentless, feel no pain command squad double-tapping plasma has a certain appeal.

Versus a more classic "rock"-style Biker Command Squad (with a mix of Storm Shields, Meltaguns, Power Claws, and usually someone with a Power Fist thrown in), it winds up costing significantly less. And even double-tapping every turn, the average Biker Command Squad with four plasmaguns will probably only lose 1 Veteran on average over the course of a game to "Gets Hot!" It's staying-power in close-combat versus assault specialists all but evaporates.

The reduced cost also makes the double command-squad army a lot more viable at lower points-value games. Heck, at 2000, I think you can fit in a pair of Relic Blade Captains, each with a Plasma Command Squad, and then four full Biker Squads with 2x Meltaguns and 1x Multi-Melta Attack Bike. Alternatively, you can do 3 plasma gunners and a Company Champion for a (relatively) cheap squad that can still swoop in and finish off heavy infantry that isn't assault-specialized on the charge (so basically anything in the Marines codex not wearing Terminator Armor or loaded up with power weapons). They do lose the added utility in deployment of being able to deploy as a screen to cover the rest of the army, but by that point, you can shove so many bikers down the enemy's throat that it's less concerning.

I haven't used plasma in a Marine army in a long time, so I have my misgivings about this idea.

Jackelope King"

The problem with Plasma on command squads is two-fold. First, you lose a very expensive model to Gets Hot! if you fail. Sure it's unlikely (1/6*1/3*1/2) but it's a pain. Whilst this is a trade-off to being able to fire more efficiently on the move thanks to Relentless, do you really want to lose such an expensive model to your own gun exploding? Secondly, Command Squads are in there for a reason: to crush face. Sure they aren't the most cheap or cost effective of crushing face units, but they do crush face well and that's what a pure bike army needs. Bikes hate combat which is why Combat Tactics is so awesome for them but they still need to be bailed out. If you're running a pure Bike list, this comes down to the Command Squad as no other bike squad can be so survivable in combat. This then becomes a huge opportunity cost as you lose an effective fighting squad. Even at lower points, I would simply shave off upgrades on the Command Squad and not go Plasma guns.

If you wanted Plasma in your bike squads, the best bet would be smaller Bike squads with an attached MM AB. This gives you some plasma on the move but still maintains the unit as anti-tank but you're more likely to lose an expensive model to Gets Hot! (no FNP). It can certainly help though in armies with a bunch of smaller bike squads or where the Command Squads aren't as prolific. However, remember meltaguns are key to stopping mech for a Biker army, especially Dreadnoughts and whilst plasmaguns help against MCs and MEQ, do Bikes really need that much help over the meltagun in this regard? You can argue 1 or 2 squads with plasma in a 5 bike squad army but you must also understand the opportunity cost.

Again though, I would steer away from it on the Command Squad, even as a cheap fire platform unless you were looking to run a Hybrid list and not have rocks in your army.

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