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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

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Blood Angels Codex Review: Part 4: Elites Part 2

Hello again, true believers. Continuing from the last entry of this review, we shall now take a look at both Terminator types and Techmarines. Before we dive in however, I want to say thanks to Zjoekov who read this ahead of time and made a few suggestions that improved the end product. Thanks, Z!

Terminators: Good

Ah! Good ol’ Termies. Often negatively compared to Assault Terminators, normal termies (or Tactical Termies, as they are often referred to) shouldn’t be so readily dismissed, for they are quite good in fact. Their arms and equipment make them the ultimate generalists: decent at everything, excellent at nothing. Though this design philosophy often leads to sub-par units, Terminators are priced reasonably enough to escape this fate.

In spite of the fact that Terminators carry around powered “We’re number one!” signs, they are actually more of a shooty unit. Storm Bolters wreck havoc on light infantry up to 24 inches away and Cyclone missile launchers are a decent mobile anti-tank option. Assault cannons are not bad but seem a little overcosted compared to the Cyclone and are limited by their shorter range, though this does fit well with the range of the Storm Bolters. Finally, the Heavy Flamer is cheap and can be deadly but the squad already has considerable anti-personnel firepower, so having a complimentary anti-tank weapon will prove a wiser choice in the vast majority of instances. Plus, Terminators are slooooooooow, so bringing the flame template to bear at all can be problematic.

On the close combat front, we have the aforementioned power fists. These are both a boon and a bane. On the one side, Terminators make mincemeat of most regular troops and stationary vehicles. On the other, striking last all the time without a good invulnerable save leaves the unit extremely vulnerable to dedicated assault troops. You can’t put those S8 powered hits on anyone when you get killed before you get a chance to swing. You can improve on your vehicle-busting potential by throwing a few chainfists on your troops though this is really only useful against AV14 all-rounders. Being cheap, they are a good way to maximise your wound-allocation capacity, however and it’s nice to have one or two for the odd Land Raider rumbling about. Not a “must have” item, but certainly a nice-to-have.

Terminators benefit greatly from Feel no Pain, as it more or less forces your opponent to concentrate his low AP weapons on them in order to get rid of them. Alternatively, your adversary may choose to pick other, softer targets instead, leaving your termies to wreck havoc on his army. 

When you put all of these characteristics together, you get a very useful unit that can accomplish a multitude of tasks. While specialist units will usually outshoot or outfight them, very few will do both at the same time. This is what makes Terminators good: they have the ability to adapt to changing battlefield conditions and differing opponents. There is never a time when termies can’t contribute in some significant way to the fight, whether through their firepower or their assault capabilities. They are also significantly easier to fit in a list than their Assault Terminator brethren since they can still be effective on foot.

Assault Terminators: Excellent

If 3++ is the new black, then 2+/3++ FnP is the new… uh… *scratches head* Pink.

Assault Terminators, being the badasses they are in the SM codex, are just plain bonkers in the BA ‘dex. Twin claw termies obviously gain the most, seeing not only their resilience increase thanks to Blood Chalices, but more importantly, their damage output goes up significantly. Although not as good as Black Templar LClaw Termies (with re-rolls to hit and S/I5), being able to strike before most armies can certainly improve the overall survivability of the squad by limiting return attacks.

Hammernators go from “hard to kill” to “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!”, though mass low AP shots and/or power weapons attacks will still drop them effectively. Still, it’s hard to think of a more effective tarpit, especially when the Red Thirst comes a’knocking. Thunder hammers don’t benefit quite as much from Furious Charge as Lightning Claws do, but mass S9 attacks significantly improve their effectiveness in assaults against Raiders and Monoliths, and auto-glancing/penning on 2+ most vehicles due to AV 10 rear armour is pretty nice. Regardless, 2+/3++/FNP is very hard to remove as mass low AP/power weapon attacks aren't exactly easy to bring to bear.

Unfortunately, BA Assault Terminators have to rely on expensive vehicles to get around, as they lack the option of being Gated by a Librarian and have no way to modify reserve rolls for non-jump pack troops. This is their major weakness, and it is the main reason why including assault termies in a list can be problematic. This is compounded by the fact that things tend to cost more in the BA codex than in the SM codex. Therefore, it is harder to give Assault Terminators + transport the support they need to be fully effective. On top of that, Blood Angels are no slouches in assault even without Terminator Assault Squads backup. Thus, outside of Rock lists that I make for funsies, Hammernators and their claw brethren are usually given a pass in favour of other unit types. This is not to say that they are bad (quite the opposite, actually), but in my experience, lists without them tend to be more well-rounded. YMMV.

Techmarines: Terrible

Where to begin?

For starters, it’s a 1-wound T4 character who is not Independent. Yes people, you read that right. While they do have access to Servitors as a retinue, that is hardly any cause for solace; they could have been a nice option to set up a very resilient backfield firebase thanks to heavy weapon options and the Techmarine’s Bolster Defence rule (plus potentially FnP from a Priest). Instead, GW decided that a static, BS 3 multi-melta was worth 30 pts. Each. Go figure. Alternatively, you could go for a close-combat servitor squad. Is this a good idea? Heh, not really. T3, 4+ save and striking last – not conducive to accomplishing much.

Techmarines might have been somewhat useful in mechanised forces were it not for one major problem: they can’t purchase a transport and cannot join squads. I don’t know how or why the decision was reached by the writers not to give them access to the stuff they are supposed to be the looking after, but they did, and in the process seriously hampered the utility of the unit. Jump Packs don’t make up for this, as you are left with a 1-in-3 chance of being able to fix anything. Hardly reliable.

Then there’s Stelek suicide combi-melta Techmarine. Probably the only not-totally terrible use, but still pretty bad. Blood Angels are hardly left wanting in the melta-availability department, so it’s not like you need to do this in common army builds. Still, it’s an option, I guess.

Overall, Techmarines just suffer from too many deficiencies to be a serious choice in most lists. There are some fringe uses for them, but you really have to think long and hard as to whether their role can’t be filled by another unit altogether.

That's it for now. Next time, we shall conclude the Elites portion with Sternguards and Sanguinary Priests. Stay tuned!

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