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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Analysis: Ironclads

Here's an email from Jason to start off a discussion:

"Hey Kirby,

Time and time again in the city store I see people taking an ironclad and dropping it into melta range. They sometimes kill something; but it is never, ever worth their while in the end.

Surely a better use for an armour 13 combat monster would be mid-table/flank drop, away from meltas, and firing your twin missiles into the side of armour?

Following this, they can try to saturate you with firepower, but armour 13 and extra armour really keeps you going towards the enemy, and it means they aren't shooting your transports (which is really what they should be doing, so translate that you probably ignore the dread?)

You have smoke for the following turn, and you can probably make it into combat; giving you a better chance to kill whatever than that single shot melta, and the missiles having a decent chance as well.

You've also had the benefit of forcing your opponent to think 'where is he going to drop that melta gun and how can i kill it?'

Just thoughts.


Let's take a quick look at the Ironclad compared to an MM/HF Dread. We're going to assume we have it outfitted with the meltagun/heavy flamer upgrades. The MM Dread is always going to be better on the drop with the more reliable range of the MM. This isn't too much of an issue with Drop Pods (basically you should never be out of ranged but whether or not you're in melta range can be affected). It is however as is pointed out by Jason, a terrible use of points more often than not. You pay a premium for the Ironclad because it has AV13 and comes with extra armor both of which are minimal use against point-blank melta which is very likely to be within reach of your Ironclad if you drop it close to your enemy. It can be a fantastic disruption but so are things like Land Speeders so unless you're dropping a lot of things in your opponent's face, this seems like a waste of a unit which is very likely to be rendered useless by a meltagun.

Is it a usable entry then? The Ironclad's role is pretty particular because it's quite expensive. Whilst it's not bad, it's not fantastic either. What the Ironclad Dread has in advantage over other Dreads is AV13 on the front and side. This means it is a lot harder to damage at range (S7 hates AV13+) and much harder to damage in combat with powerfists. However, Ironclads cannot take ranged weapons like twin-linked autocannons to provide effective backfield firepower but they can take up to two hunter killer missiles, something no other Dreadnought can do. In the end this is exactly what Jason is talking about, you fire 2x HKM turn one, rely on your AV13 at range to defend you (which is pretty good) combined with extra armor, move and run next turn + smoke and then you are very likely in combat range or at the very least severely threatening your opponent. The problem with this is these guys are quite expensive and you obviously don't have any Rifleman Dreadnoughts which loses you some downfield firepower.

This can be alleviated somewhat with a Master of the Forge and running six Dreads. For example....

MotF w/Beamer
3x Ironclads w/2x HKM
4x 5x Tacticals w/LasPlas RBack
5x Scouts w/Cloak, ML
3x Typhoon
3x Rifledread

1990 points.

Here you've got a lot of firepower as usual from Dreads/Typhoons/LasPlas backed up by 6x HKM from the Ironclads and units that are aggressively pushing midfield/opponent's backfield which are quite potent in combat. It's certainly a better use than using them in pods (except in a full Pod army but even then, you're paying a lot of points on AV13 and EA which is generally nullified by point blank melta). You could also do things like run MM/HF Speeders for that deep-strike disruption or run full 10 man Tactical squads, not run the scouts, etc.

Any other uses of Ironclads one can think of? Their options outside of heavy flamer and the HKM are pretty meh which limits their use and the expense you pay for them also makes them less optimal compared to Dreadnoughts with wider access to weapon load-outs. They don't gain anything on the drop compared to normal Dreadnoughts and may in fact be worse due to point inefficiency and smaller melta range and whilst their AV13 is excellent at ranged defense or in combat, it's hard to take use of it at range without long-ranged guns and it can be hard to get them in combat when relying on move+run. In the end the Dreadnought is generally more versatile and outside of the use outlined in this post and in Jason's email, Ironclads don't have much going for them.

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