Kirb your enthusiasm!
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
Monday, June 18, 2012
Posted by AbusePuppy
Alright, we're going to start this one off with a disclaimer again because the point was brought up in the comments of the last article: this series isn't about atrocious, unusable units like Legion of the Damned; it's about the "bad" units that don't see a lot of play because they fall through the cracks in a codex, being either a bit too expensive, a bit too narrow, or simply just a bad fit for what the book does. In some cases you can use them in quite good armies; in most others you will be able to bring them to the table and enjoy a degree of success with them, but they will always be a little shabbier than you might like. I'll be talking about the hows and whys of these units and just what puts them in the position they end up in.
The Dreadknight, when first leaked as part of the GK book, could've been pretty ridiculous. It was S/T7, 2+/4++ and generally just kicked the pants off of every other monstrous creature ever released in the game. The version we actually got was a lot less scary- its stats went down to sixes and a 5+ invulnerable, making it a lot more manageable. It still gets a lot of attention, although more because people like getting angry about the model than the actual unit itself.
Well, it has a pretty standard MC statline going for it right out of the gates- WS5, BS4, S6, T6, W4, I4, A3 and ignoring saves with its swings (not to mention the normal Nemesis Weapon abilities) make it a nasty customer in CC, and this is obviously where it shines. 2+ armor and 5+ invulnerable give it better survivability than most Tyranid critters and most importantly the ability to shrug off the ubiquitous Missiles and Power Fists. Toss in Hammerhand and the ability to Deep Strike as some little bonuses and you have a reasonably solid package at 130pts.
It can get a Personal Teleporter (i.e. wings) or one of three guns as well- a super-gatling gun, a large blast Psycannon, and a Hellhound-style flamer, the former and latter are both pretty decent weapons and are worth at least thinking about. It can also upgrade its fists to Daemonhammers (netting it Str10 without having to swing last) or a Greatsword (which lets you reroll basically everything in close combat.)
So what we have is a pretty scary combat machine for a much more reasonable price than comparable critters (like the Carnifex) that also has the option to be speedy or shooty? Seems pretty good to me.
Well, problem number one is always the same: price. With the Teleporter clocking in at a steep 75pts and the guns at a minimum of 30, it can get really expensive really fast. You are effectively stuck being either overpriced (if you took a teleporter) or too slow (if you didn't), a fate that many MCs must lament. The 5++ is nice, but realistically you aren't a whole lot harder to kill than most big critters and certainly no tougher than a Dreadnought or the like.
His guns are all unique, but at the same time they also are a little bit... well, not that amazing. The Heavy Psycannon is just trashy; sure, it's still S7 AP4 Rending and upgrades to a large blast, but losing the multiple shots makes it way, way worse, as that's the main selling point of the normal Psycannon. The Gatling Psilencer is a pretty good anti-infantry tool (12 S4 shots), but comes on a platform that may not be using it much and isn't that impressive when you get down to it. Only the Heavy Incinerator is really a "good" gun, as throwing S6 templates around is a strong thing. But when you consider you're looking to pay at least 165 for it- and more likely a lot more than that, since you want a Teleporter so you can get in range- you have to start wondering just how much a single template is worth to you.
We also look at the role something like this usually performs (countercharge) and ask ourselves: why? Why would we want a Dreadknight over some more regular GK dudes, who are pretty harsh in combat on their own and cost less/shoot better? Some armies use MCs as a way to discourage combat, like Necrons or Eldar, but GK don't need that- they are scary enough in combat to start with. Others flood the table with them and hope to overwhelm enemy guns as they rush in, but GK can't get anything similar anywhere else, so that isn't going to work, either. A henchmen-based army might have need of a big countercharge unit... if not for the existence of Terminators, Paladins, and Death Cult, all of which fill the role better. And speaking of better...
In case you hadn't heard yet, GK already have a good unit in their HS slot. It's called the Psyfleman, or Psy-Rifleman if you want to get picky about it, and it's basically the best goddamn antitank unit you will ever see in your life. It does all the things GK needs for a good price and with excellent utility. Held up to this measuring stick, there is simply no way the Dreadknight can compare- the Psyflemen is, without exaggeration, one of the best units in the game, so it isn't realistic to expect that it could meet that. Any Dreadknight you bring could've been an infinitely more flexible Psyfleman and for (in most cases) fewer points as well.
Even that aside, though, we have the aforementioned problems with other units. GK are the ultimate generalists and thus don't really need a huge, beefy guy around to punch people for them- every unit in the army already does that. Their more melee-oriented units especially simply trump the Dreadknight too hard in combat and in shooting. Want a good way to handle hordes? Purifiers will do that. Need something a little tougher? Paladins are there. Need a murder stick? Death Cult are cheap as chips and ready to party. Worried about your scoring presence also? Terminators have you covered. With so many other options around, it is a rare army that needs a Dreadknight specifically to do a job.
The competition is the real reason seeing the DK on the table is going to be incredibly rare, except as a "look how original and different I am" kind of piece. And, unless 6E makes some massive changes to the way things play, I don't think that is really going to change very much in the future- Psyflemen will still be good, whatever else may come.
Evaluating "Bad" Units: Dreadknight