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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
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"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Friday, April 6, 2012

40k Fallacy: "Single-gun tanks are all bad"


It is a somewhat well-known fact that most of the single-gun tanks, such as the Vindicator, are generally not very cost-effective. They tend to be quite expensive, in spite of the fact that they have one very very important weakness: as soon as their gun is gone, they basically become a glorified moving wall. Where the problem arises is when one starts to automatically make the "single gun vehicle = bad" association in one's head.

The reason I bring this up is that I often see this argument brought up whenever the relative merits of Assbacks and Plasmabacks are being discussed for the Blood Angels. Whenever an argument on the subject arises, the proponents of the Twin-Plas/Las will often immediately state that the Assault Cannon option is flat out inferior because it can be nullified with a single Weapon Destroyed result, while the Plasmaback needs two to be defanged.

It's not a completely worthless argument, but it fails to take into account some factors which are pretty important:

1- Unlike say a Vindicator, the Assback's function within the army isn't uniquely to provide fire support. As long as it is still mobile, it is still fulfilling the "transport troops to destination" role, and as long as it is still not destroyed, "protect troops from harm" is also being accomplished. Ergo, its cost-effectiveness isn’t entirely nullified by a single Weapon Destroyed result.

2- Outside of Squadrons, it is rare to be able to take more than 3 single-gun tanks like the Vindicator. This means that it is harder to accomplish redundancy or to fully capitalize on the strong points of the vehicle; imagine for a second that you could take 9 Vindicators in separate FoC slots... much scarier prospect that a normal list with 3 Vindis tacked on. Well that is exactly what you can do with TLAC Razorbacks - you can easily go with 6 of them to carry Assault Squads in your Troops slots, and then another 3-6 from Elites or Heavy Support (Dev transports) if you want. What this means is that even if one of the Razors loses its turret, it's not quite as big a deal - you have 5-8 more as backups, instead of 1-2 more.

3- Cost. An Assback is considerably less expensive then most other single-gun tanks. Ergo, when its gun goes, you're losing less "points" than when a Demolisher cannon gets destroyed, for example. Ergo, the "risk" with taking a single-gun transport is less of an issue from that angle, since you invested less points in taking it.

4- Role within the army. I'm always baffled whenever someone overlooks this point: you should consider the unit within the context of the army it is a part of, not just within a vacuum. For example, if I intend to play a more aggressive list, where the ASM are supported by Priests and are all packing a melta, an Infernus and a Power Weapon, what is going to synergise better? The Plasmaback which loses half of its firepower if it moves at Cruising Speed, or the Assback which can do 12" and fire to full effect?

5- Relative merit of the unit and alternatives. This ties in to number 4, but is a little different. When you compare the Assback and the Plasmaback, and look beyond the single-gun issue, it becomes immediately obvious that the Assback has some non-negligeable advantages that shouldn’t be overlooked, chief amongst them the fact that it is a more versatile turret and is able to move and shoot at full effect all the time. That is not to say that the Plasmaback is bad or doesn’t have its own advantages; I am telling you that you need to take into account the relative merit of the Assback before rejecting it out of hand due to the single gun. Are the advantages important enough to make up for the disadvantage of having a single gun? In some cases, yes they are.

In summary, you need to ask yourself some questions before blindly classifying a single-gun tank as “bad”: Is it expensive? Can I get a lot of them to ensure redundancy? Is shooting its only role? How well does it synergise with the rest of my list? What merits does it have that could compensate for its single-gun weakness, and how do those compare to the other units I could get for the same points? If the answers are “yes”, “no”, “yes”, “not well” and “none, not well”, then it’s safe to say you have a bad gun tank, but otherwise, you might just have a useful unit - in part or in full.

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