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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Beating a dead horse - Purifiers in combat


I'm going to give some examples here because BoLS (I know right?) still think these guys are the best thing since sliced bread and that Grey Knights are still good in combat in general. Before we get started, yes Death Cult Assasins and Paladins are awesome but they do have drawbacks. Paladins are bloody expensive so you'd expect them to maul in combat (and GKT to a lesser but still effective extent). They do have a serious weakness to mass S8 firepower or combat attacks (i.e. other Terminators) which needs to be considered but are otherwise very scary with WS5, good defenses (T4/W2/2+/5++ or 4++) and a decent number of attacks. Any army which cannot put in a bunch of S8 firepower at once though is going to find these units very hard to deal with. DCA on the other hand are pretty cheap, strike hard and fast and are going to tear a hole in most units. However, they die to a stiff breeze (bolters!) due to T3/5++ and have no frag grenades. This makes them a great counter-assault unit but without a Land Raider, limits their offensive application.

Now that's out of the way let's remind everyone Grey Knight Strike Squads are 1A base. This makes them terrible in combat. They. Have. One. Attack. Their Force Weapons certainly help make them better but only against units Tactical squads end up forever locked in with (i.e. other Tactical Squads). Force Weapons aren't really going to help beat the units they already beat (Fire Warriors, Imperial Guardsmen, Gants, etc.) and aren't going to save them against dedicated combat units. WS4/A1 does that. Get over it.

Now let's look at Purifiers because they are obviously OP. We'll say they have six halberds, two psycannons and two hammers. Pretty standard setup if you're going full-size and all in a Rhino which is 322 points so not cheap. Against MEQ these guys are handing out (without Hammerhand which is more than likely to be stopped with a hood) three wounds at I6. Wow. That's terrifying... /sarcasm. You may get a further wound from the Psycannons and then another 1.5 from the Hammers. That's a guaranteed 4.5 kills and 1 save. From 322 points. Who die like Tactical Marines. We are raving about this why? Add in Hammerhand and that's still only adding an extra wound from the Halberds. Woopie!

Now let's assume they get the charge (difficult when in a Rhino). Remember most combat units have much better delivery systems (open-topped/assault vehicles, 12" move, 12" assault, fleet, etc.). That total of wounds is jumping up to 4.5 at I6, 1.5 from psycannons and 2.5 from the Hammers. More impressive but when you drop 300 points on a unit, you'd expect numbers like this at default and expect the unit to take a punch. Not happening. Again add in Hammer hand and we jump to 6 from the halberds and 2 from the psycannons. Bit more impressive since you can now wipe small squads before they swing but still expensive and still dying like Marines (not to mention needing the assault and Hammerhand to go off which are both less likely with Ld9 + psychic defense and 6"move + assault).

For a quick comparison to a 10-man DCA unit (150 points+transport cost).

Not on the charge: 10 wounds
On the charge: 13.3 wounds

Half the cost, double the wounds, all at I6 and we can add L10 Hammerhands, rad grenades, etc. to make this even scarier without having a 500-700 point unit.

Let's take a look at some other armies then. How about Jumper armies. We've compared the two armies before and I gave a minor edge to BA thanks to their ability to shrug off psycannon/stormbolter fire pretty effectively and close the gap early against GK. GK take away some of BA's usual advantages in combat (FNP) and Purifiers in particular hurt Jumpers with I6 (>I5). As we pointed about above though they aren't doing that much damage. Assuming an ASM unit (2x mgun, PFist) gets the charge, the Purifiers are going to kill 4.5 ASM whilst the ASM will drop three Purifiers with the ASM likely to hold assuming full squads, Furious Charge and no Hammerhand. This ends up in favor of the Purifiers (even on a per point basis) but not by much. If the ASM bring support (i.e. an SG squad which is 7.25 wounds against MEQ assuming 1 Fist, FC anc charge) which they barely bring into contact (say 1 or 2 Halberd Purifiers or simply the Psycannons)? The Purifier squad can wave goodbye. Now this is obviously bringing more force to bear so the points suddenly swing in the BA player's favor but it highlights what we already know about Grey Knights (also consider the GK player is realistically only going to have at most, four of these units so other armies are able to focus fire more easily).

Unless you are Paladins/GKT, you have no real staying power against combat units.

Let's look at other examples, say Wyches (10x Wyces, 2x Shardnets, Venom Blade). Once again we're assuming the fast unit gets the charge and no shooting has been done before hand. The Purifier wounds are halved thanks to a 4++ (not to mention any shardnet disruption) but they obviously gain with wounding on 2+ (assume Hammerhand goes off though Cleansing Flame would be better here) so deal roughly 4 deaths. The Wyches throw back around 6-7 wounds with no combat drugs (so roughly 2 deaths). We include combat drugs and those numbers go up and are more than likely to equal the Purifiers wound total. Add in potential pain tokens as well and the Purifiers are being most likely being eclipsed. If not, they aren't doing that much more damage and the Wyches are likely to stay. This is a squad which is roughly half the points of the Purifiers meeting them stroke for stroke.

How about TH/SS. We again assume the Terminators get the charge (thanks Land Raider) and the Purifiers whack in three wounds before the TH/SS can do anything killing one. The Psycannon is again unlikely to do anything and then the Hammers may cause another death. Four TH/SS strike back and five Purifiers are dead. 200 points & 300 with a 5 to 2 kill ratio.

Now I know what you're going to say. That price tag includes the shooting of the Purifiers which is pretty deadly so they'd not want to engage those units until they can be sure of victory (i.e. those Halberds knock the squad down to point of uselessness).

This is my point.

They are a better shooting unit and use combat as their back-up. Whether this is to finish squads off or simply deny opponents charges later on (i.e. they've dealt with your blocking unit), close combat is not where they want to be - even with hammers and halberds as upgrades. How the hell does that make it a good combat unit? It doesn't. It has utility in combat and paying those couple of points for Halberds or Hammers isn't a terrible idea but they want to shoot for as long as possible before they engage in combat.

This is my point. Do you get it now?

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