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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Guest Article: Using Landraiders in 5th edition


LANDRAIDERS: The Power of The Machine Spirit Is In There!

So first off I’d (aka Crynn) like to say my obligatory hello to the 3++ community, and another hello for those I regularly speak to over the chatbawks. This has been one of my favourite blogs for quite a while now and Kirby has been nice enough to let me write a piece which hopefully will be up for you all to read. If you are reading this now then I have succeeded. Yay!

So I am here to talk about the humble Landraider. Maybe no longer the premier transport that it once was but still the Space Marines toughest and definitely most ominous looking vehicle. Some armies run scared of its ceremite plates, others laugh at the fact that this behemoth really has more bark than bite. However, for all its pros and cons, I have played a landraider in both my competitive Blood Angles army and competitive Grey Knights army and have found a lot of success with it winning no comp and comped tournaments alike with the landraider firmly holding its place in my lists. So if you’re one of those people that love its imposing looks and front heavy weapon array but find the raider lets you down in game, read on and hopefully you will find a way to add one back into your everyday lists. They really can be a lot better than most people give them credit for.

The best way to explain what a Landraider is good at, is explaining what it’s not that good at and some of the misconceptions that float around the interwebz regarding how to use them.

The Common Approaches to Using a Landraider:

1. Full frontal assault vehicle -

The landraider is not a ‘throw it down the guts of the enemy transport’. You do not just load it up with 5-8 assault terminators and say to your enemy ‘deal with this’, because any competent opponent with a reasonable list at his fingertips will do more than deal with it - they will punish you for being so reckless with 450+ points worth of your army. Many armies pack enough melta based weaponry to level a landraider or two in a single turn with little trouble. Take note, a landraider is not that much tougher than a Rhino when placed in half range of a melta weapon. To further this point I’ll provide some stats (Yes I am a sucker for a bit of sneaky math-hammer). When in half range of a rhino, the chance to destroy it with a melta weapon at BS4 is 31%. The chance to destroy a landraider in the same range is 21%. So you can see the land raider is only around 33% tougher than a rhino in this instance yet is over 7 times the cost. Also remember that in many cases, an immobilized raider is almost as good as a dead one so the chances of it becoming useless are higher again.

Running straight down the guts can sometimes be an option against those armies that cannot reliably bring down the beast such as Tyranids or Necrons. However, all these armies, and even ones that can bring it down, generally have many ways a clever general can neutralize this tactic such as blocking with vehicles, gaunt walls, or simply ignoring it to focus on other elements of your force (there are many I won’t go into here). This is the main tactic implored by most players who use a landraider, it isn’t particularly clever nor is it particularly very innovative; in fact it is just not really very good at all. The likely result of this is your raider getting destroyed leaving your premier assault unit stranded away from a mobile enemy force or engaged in an assault not on its terms and fighting a less than ideal target. Now this is not to say that you should never throw a land raider at an opponent it just means that for 250 points a good list built around having a landraider should be able to employ it for other roles when the head long approach is out of the question.

2. Weapons Platform -

The Land Raider isn’t an effective gun boat when it comes to destroying vehicles or infantry. This applies to all landraider variants. If you are taking it for the guns whether they be hurricane bolters and a twin linked assault cannon or twin lascannons you will still find that the raider will struggle to significantly impact the game through its shooting alone – it’s just not price efficient. Rather, this role should be left to those units that were designed to fill that place, predators, rifleman dreads and things of that nature. Now I don’t see this style of landraider played too often these days however it is still a mistake that I hear floating around especially in relation to the redeemer landraider which I believe is the most lacking variant mainly due to point no. 1. This is not to say that the Landraiders weapon systems should be ignored, quite the contrary they should be utilized. However, doing so whilst (generally) transporting an assault unit seems counter-productive in many ways. You can’t move 12 inches and use the weapons effectively or move and smoke to have a chance to live through any melta assault that the raider may be staring down.

So what are we left with? An expensive transport that isn’t always capable of running headlong into the enemy and when forced out of this role isn’t an effective gun boat? In short, yes. This is why they are not the most common unit outside of marine players trying to find a way to get their hammernators into CC ASAP. A more in depth analysis can reveal a few hidden tricks and talents that the old girl has up its sleeve.

Other Landraider Applications:

1. LOS blocking moveable Terrain –

Now obviously the land raider isn’t terrain but when you have armour 14 on all facings with Power of the Machine Spirit, most of the time you can act like it is almost impervious to many army’s long ranged fire power. We all know that not even lascannons are particularly effective against landraiders and they aren't even that common. Take this further in comparison to one of the most common anti-vehicle weapons in the game, especially amongst Marine armies, the missile launcher. Whilst a fantastic weapon, the missile launcher is barely capable of destroying a land raider over the course of a game -let alone a single turn. The best a single missile launcher can hope to do to is immobilize it and even at BS 4, the chance of that happening without cover is less than 2%. This makes the land raider excellent when utilizing the ‘denied flank’ deployment which I’m sure most of us are familiar with.

For instance, a Space Wolves player deploys his 3x5 missile launcher long fangs so that roughly 1 is the middle of his deployment zone and 1 unit is to either side of the first; terrain will limit his optimal deployment further. Deploying second allows you to deploy on one flank with the land raider exposed but most to all of you army huddled behind it. Most SW armies have missiles and melta guns as their main or only anti-tank weapons meaning you have effectively taken away their whole turn of firing. Missiles bounce, bolters and every other anti-infantry weapon can’t see their targets and suddenly the advantage of the first turn is gone. I have done this to many a wolf player and it is not that difficult to completely hide 2 rhino chassis and a dread behind a raider. You can also use this same idea to then outshoot your opponent even with less ranged firepower than them. I do this with my BAs and GKs frequently. Simply by pivoting the land raider so that your hidden units can only see one long fang unit (and thus only one long fang unit can see you) you can then still mitigate the fire from the other 2 with the landraider and concentrate all your own ranged fire on eliminating the one unit you have allowed to see the rest of your force.

These kind of tricks can force your opponent to come to you allowing you to in some ways control the enemy or force them into plays that are unsuited to their lists. Once the enemy is coming to you the Landraider is able to be effective as a counter assault delivery system which leads to point two.

2. Counter Assault –

If you want to make sure your Landraider and the unit within fight their battles on their own terms, a good way to do this is by using the Raider as a counter-assault vehicle. If you are able to bring the enemy to you, you can avoid having to drive at them pop smoke and hope that their melta doesn’t crack your raider open (or any of the other tactics one can use to stop a Landraider delivering death). Instead the melta is more likely to move into your assault threat range (between 21” - 21.5” depending on the size of the base of the unit within the landraider) and not be in range to get the extra D6 pen on the raider (melta range on a meltagun is about 20-21" out of a transport). The only really common threatening weapon to this style of Landraider play is a Multimelta. These are generally mounted on flimsy chassis such as land-speeders and attack-bikes and are easily destroyed before they can get within 12” of the raider. Lances are similarly generally mounted on flimsy chassis but have greater range though it still takes quite a few to bring down a landriader. At BS 4 with no cover, it takes an average of 12 S8 lance weapons to be precise. There are other weapons such as railguns and manticores that are effective against raiders at long range but are far less common. When these threats do show up it's imperative that you can deal with them quickly or they can ruin your day.

3. Transport Suppression –

One of the hardest parts about destroying a vehicle is actually rolling a 5+ on the vehicle damage chart. The landraider neither possess the number of shots nor the AP1 to reliable destroy vehicles. What it does possess is extremely accurate high str weapons that are able to multi-target. This allows it to target two individual transports, reliably hit (88% per shot) and reliably get a roll on a damage chart. This is of course the ability to suppress opposing mech for a turn. Even just a shaken result is going to stop tanks moving whilst stunned results stop it from moving and shooting. When playing low model count armies that are unable to target multiple units such as Draigowing, a Landraider can be quite useful to stun those transports allowing the Paladins to catch their opponents.

4. The ultimate sling shot –

For those who are unfamiliar with the term sling shot let me explain. A sling shot is when you use independent character (usually a fast one with a jump pack for instance) to increase the move distance of a unit by attaching them to that unit in the movement phase. For example. A unit of Blood Angel Assault Terminators want to charge a unit of chaos space marine which are 14 inches away. The Terminators move up 6” but will still be out of range to charge this turn. The player then decides to sling shot them into combat using a Librarian with a jump pack attached to a nearby Assault Squad. The Librarian leaves the Assault Squad and joins the Terminators by jumping in front of them by 2 inches. The Terminator unit now includes the Librarians who is an effective 3"  further away from the Terminators (2" coherency + 1" base). The Terminators are now an effective 5" away from their target instead of 8”. Using the Librarian the terminators can now charge.

Consider the land raider the jump pack for the ICs. By putting a unit of terminators next to a landraider with one or more ICs on board you can effectively extend the assault range of that unit simply by driving the land raider up ahead of the terminators and joining the ICs to the front of the terminators. If you were to have 2 ICs with normal size bases you can effectively increase the assault range of a unit next to a landraider by 6”! Combine this with the fact that whatever else was in the raider can still jump out and charge and suddenly the enemy can find a few of their squads locked in a multi-assault they were never expecting to be in.

5. Aura Expansion –

This is quite a simple concept however it is again an unwritten ability a landraider has. Any aura effect your army may have can have its range extended simply by putting the model creating the aura inside the Landraider. Remember that aura effects are then measured from the hull of the landraider. Unit abilities or wargear such as the blood chalice from a BA sang priest, shrouding from a GK librarian or null zone from a space marine librarian all have their area of effect increased by being inside a landraider and for something like shrouding this can be important especially when the landraider is already providing cover for other units.


Now obviously not every army can employ all of these tactics however if you are looking to take a land raider in your list or are wanting an excuse to field one, try to build your army in a way that allows it take advantage of some of the utility that a landraider can offer.

I hope some of you have found this useful or if not, perhaps a little interesting. Remember to sometimes think outside the box because if it has been done before, well, it has been done before, you aren’t going to surprise anyone with that.


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