Kirb your enthusiasm!


"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, November 2, 2010

Vulkan: Should he always be used?

Vulkan. He’s that guy everyone complains about being in every single SM list as a no-brainer choice. News flash; he’s not. This was sparked by a comment by LKHero saying that the Space Marine codex is limited in builds, not internally balanced and a Vulkan is a no-brainer choice. Whilst I believe the SM codex is the weakest in terms of internal balance of the 5th edition books, only Heavy Support is really limited. Every other FoC has at least three good options (Bikes cheat and fit into both Troops and FA) which leads to a whole bunch of different lists. However, the focus of this post is Vulkan, so let’s take a gander at him.

Vulkan is a great character and adds quite extensively to many Marine lists. For an extra 90 points over a regular captain he has a good combat presence and statline with a S6 power weapon, 3++ and heavy flamer to boot but importantly makes all flamers/meltas in the SM army twin-linked and thunder hammers master crafted at the cost of combat tactics. For an army with a lot of flamers and meltas in every slot, this can be amazing. In case you missed it, that was a conditional. An army with lots of flamers and meltas in every slot (except Heavy Support. Do NOT buy MM Devs lol). Not every SM list has this and thus not every SM list needs Vulkan. Let’s explore why.

At anything above 1750 Vulkan is going to be extremely cost efficient in most Marine lists. A normal Captain with Relic Blade, digital weapons and SS clocks in at 150 points so for 40 extra points you get twin-linked on all of your meltas and flamers over combat tactics, master-crafted on the Relic Blade and a heavy flamer. So if you were going to take a Captain w/Relic Blade & SS and not on a bike, yes Vulkan is pretty much a no-brainer at appropriate point levels. However, most SM lists don’t run Captains like that for good reason. They don’t add anything to the army other than some S6 power weapon attacks. So the real comparison needs to be made against a Librarian which means we are coughing up and extra 90 points for Vulkan. That’s a whole Land Speeder and extra plus the loss of psychic defense and powers such as Null Zone to gain twin-linked on our flamers and meltas. Although this is a steeper price difference between the ‘standard’ HQ and Vulkan, it still doesn’t rule out his efficiency.

Looking at an SM list with something like 10 MM, 6 flamers (3 combi) and 6 heavy flamers you’ll quickly see why he is very efficient (hell buying 9 MM/HF Speeders essentially ‘pays’ for Vulkan’s efficiency) and that's without Termiantors. However, is that extra 90 points always worth it? In point efficiency terms, more often than not yes. But in relative terms, not always. Let’s take a gander at my potential Centurion list (1750):

Libby w/Null Zone, Avenger
3x Riflemen Dreads
2x10xTacs w/flamer, MM, Rhino
2x5xTacs w/LasPlas Rback
2x2xLand Speeders w/MM/HF
3xPredators w/HB

Vulkan only impacts on 4 units (large Tacs and Land Speeders) and I need to make room for him. Sure dropping the Dreads down to MM Dreads adds to the number of units he effectively helps whilst saving points but also makes this list suffer from lack of ranged anti-tank. Whilst adding in Vulkan doesn’t make it a bad list (with some working), it’s a different style of list. The list is a lot more focused on close-ranged firefights (which it will usually win) and when you add in Terminators ala Thunderbubble, this advantage is heightened. However, a Vulkan Mech or Vulkan Thunderbubble list is fundamentally different as you need to ensure you are taking as much advantage of Vulkan’s abilities as possible which ends up forcing your list to focus on close-ranged firefights.

Is one better or worse than the other? Not really, they have different advantages and disadvantages but blindly putting Vulkan into a list isn’t always going to get you a maximum return on points invested and needs to fit the style of list. Adding Vulkan into the above list is the same problem as a normal Captain; what need do I have for that S6 combat firepower when I’d rather not be in combat? It’s a nice back-up but since I’m not gaining the most out of his Chapter Tactics, he doesn’t fit that list. This obviously means Vulkan isn’t a no-brainer choice. Yes he is probably always going to be point efficient but that doesn’t mean the unit fits into an army. By adding Vulkan you change the dynamic of the army list and either need to build around this or change your list to account for this. This is a great thing of 5th edition army books. A single character takes a ‘standard’ codex build (builds even) and modifies them to make a distinctly different list. Vulkan is good but he's specific to a certain army style and even though he's point efficient, blithely putting him in any list doesn't make the list necessarily better.

Follow us on Facebook!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...