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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, July 8, 2012

Things That Sucked in 5th but Awesome Now, and Vice Versa

Hey gang, Nikephoros here.  After having a few games under my belt I'm going to refrain from claiming to have solved the game or know what's the end all, be all of 6th Edition.  That said, I have made some observations that I think stand up pretty well.  

Fortunately for the world, everyone and their brother have been talking about their views on 6th Edition.  Rather than rehash everyone else's topics, I thought I would discuss units that were either bad or mediocre in 5th edition which have become strong in 6th.  This can be either rules that directly improve them, or more commonly, rules encourage a style of play that indirectly benefit them.  So without further adieu...

Oh wait, I was good in 5th too!

1.  Deathstars.  But only certain ones.  Multi-wound models are ideal, but what's most important is the models count as upgrade characters: Sergeants, Warlocks, Nobz, etc.  The key to manipulating wound allocation now is being able to bounce wounds as needed regardless of positioning.  Farseer with Fortune leading a unit of Warlocks with an attacked 2+ armor save Phoenix Lord are cute, because on a 2+ you can't move any AP2 shots directed at the PL to a Warlock who gets a 4++ re-rollable save.  Conversely, if you get lit up by a Battle Cannon, on a 4+ you can move wounds to the PL who gets a re-rollable 2+ armor save.  This will ensure that an already tough to kill unit is even tougher to kill.  Multi-wound units like Mega-Nobz are even crazier to get rid of, and if they are on bikes the old plan of Power Fists/Thunder Hammers instant killing them doesn't work so well.

2.  Powerfists.  As a corollary, IC's armed with Fists/Hammers are insane.  They have a 2+ LOS to keep clean of wounds.  What this means is, any Fearless/ATSKNF unit with an IC with a fist is going to inevitably grind you to nothing.  The Fist will do a couple of wounds every turn and will never be killed, and will never break.  This is very scary.  A lowly Ork Warboss with a Claw in a unit of 30 Boyz can easily wipe units several times their points value if you can't kill the IC.  A possible solution is gearing your IC's to beat up other IC's in challenges, in order to mitigate the damage they can do.

3.  Attack Bikes.  Multi-melta attack bikes were outclassed by MM Speeders in 5th.  In 6th, however, Attack Bikers are survivable whereas MM Speeders are not.  Attack bikes are mostly immune to Instant Death now, whereas before one Krak Missile ended their day.  Attack bikes can still be torrented down by small arms fire, but they stand up better to lascannons/missiles than Speeders.  Typhoon Speeders are still good, but bringing an MM Speeder into a range where it can be effective is suicide.  As Attack Bikers are slightly more survivable, and cost fewer points, I see them replacing MM Speeders by and large.

4.  Predators.  Oh yes.  These are all stars now.  Doubt me at your own expense.  Predators are now the choice de jour of Vanilla/BT/DA/Chaos Space Marine Heavy Support.  BA and SW get insanely cheap Devastators that you can't pass on, but everyone else should be taking Predators outside of special builds.  Here why: fire suppression is dead.  The entire concept of Shake Stunning a Predator the whole game until you randomly Wreck it is over.  AV13 at 36-48" is going to shoot at you every turn and you won't stop it until it's dead.  Sure, you can focus fire on one, but it's going to take 5 or 6 Missile Shots from an MEQ to remove one Hull Point.  So essentially, to Catch a Predator is a significant firepower investment.  You might get lucky and Explode it, or Shake along the way, but for the most part, the overall firepower a Predator brings to the table over the course of the game is vastly improved from 5th.  And from a cost effective standpoint, they compare favorably to Devastators for the books I cited above.  This is similar to the next entry...

5.  Vindicators/Demolishers.  I said it.  They sucked in 5th, but they have game in 6th.  For starters, the drawback of "one gun syndrome" is significantly lessened.  You're just as likely to Explode it as you are to Weapon Destroyed it.  And you are significantly more likely to simply Wreck it long before either of those results.  So guess what: it will shoot it's Cannons every turn until it dies.  And unlike 5th, they smash vehicles to smithereens.  And they kill Nob bikers to smithereens.  Don't get me wrong, they are not the end all be all, but they are vastly, vastly improved.  For Templars and Blood Angels, they should be strongly, strongly considered as they will get to shoot before midfield weapons like Psycannons/Multi-meltas can even think about stopping them.  Going back to the Nob Bikerz, if T5+ deathstars (which several codices can do now) become a force on the tournament scene, the value of Vindis will only increase.

6.  Chaos Havoks with Autocannons.  In my opinion, if you gave me the option of a gun that fired one shot that could easily penetrate a vehicle, or a gun that fired multiple shots that easily glance a vehicle, I'll take the latter.  Glances are how you reliably kill anything short of AV14.  That being the case, Havoks with Auto-Cannons are kings of the battlefield.  A single unit of AC havoks will do about 2.66 glances to a Rhino per turn.  A unit with Krak missiles will do 1.75 glances.  Yes, the Kraks are more likely to penetrate, but you are going to kill the Rhino with glances before you kill it by exploding.  That being the case, Havoks with AC are the superior choice for Light Mech control.  Additionally, the AC Havoks have more game against Monstrous Creatures, Flyers and random Infantry than Missiles.  Unfortunately for most loyalist Marines, their Devs don't get AC, so that leaves Chaos Marines smiling.  Do you bring Predators or Havoks?  Either choice is good, but Predators are clearly more cost effective with AC/LC than as Dakka Preds.  If you want anti-heavy mech, Predators.  Anti-Light Mech or MC, Havoks.  It comes down to how good the remainder of your list is at killing the other stuff.

I have some more of these, and I'll share them with you guys in future installments.  So for now I'll warn you about this: if you dismiss AV13 long ranged firepower as non-competitive, you'll be making a huge mistake.  Keep bringing Missile Devs and MM Speeders to your own detriment.


On to the flip side of the coin... I would like to touch on some things that dominated 5th Edition, but are not nearly as overwhelming in 6th.  The title is misleading, most of these things don't suck now, they just aren't as awesome as they used to be.

Shaking like an epileptic
1.  Fortitude.  In a world where vehicles were suppressed by shake stunning, Fortitude was the king.  Most armies loaded themselves up with Strength 6-8 weapons in order to suppress as many vehicles per turn as they could, which allowed them to “deal” with the vehicles with minimum firepower.  This in turn allowed them to focus overwhelming resources on immediate threats.  Grey Knights trumped this.  If you wanted to suppress the Psyfleman dread, or the Rhino full of Purifiers, you had to kill them.  This was a force multiplier for the outnumbered GK, which allowed them to avoid being defeated by simple torrent of fire. 

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) this paradigm is over.  Vehicles will only rarely be shaken or stunned.  Vehicles are more likely to be destroyed before they are shaken.  Therefore, anything that mitigates shake stun effects are vastly reduced in value.  The very torrent of fire that they were designed to be immune from is now deadly.  Additionally, the downside of Perils on a Fortitude test used to be negliable.  A glancing hit, no big deal.  Most likely it would be another shaken result, which was what they were hit with anyway so it was no drawback at all.  Now suffering a glancing hit is downright deadly.  You have a Psyfleman with 1 hull point left.  You gonna take the risk of rolling Fortitude?  It used to be a no-brainer.  Now, you really have to weigh your options.

2.  Missile Spam.  Missiles are still good, make no mistake.  But as we came to find out, they dominated 5th Edition.  Not only were they great at playing the light mech game, but they had another function few give them credit for: they made Nob Bikerz go away.  The solution to the menace of Nob Bikerz was putting instant death wounds on them which ignored their Feel No Pain and removed whole models, which meant Strength 8, 9, or 10 wounds.  Missiles were the cheapest option of these, and most armies could take them.  Once most armies began loading up on missiles, Nob Bikerz stopped winning.  In 6th Edition, Missiles neither ignore Feel No Pain, nor remove whole models of Nob Bikerz.  Uh oh! 

Since missiles are no longer a win button against deathstars, their role is primarily anti-vehicle with some modular usage against infantry.  But as a primarily anti-vehicle weapon, they are outclassed by Auto-cannons (rate of fire) and Lascannons (quality of fire and all important AP2).  They are increasingly beginning to look like a jack of all trades in an environment where specialization is the key to success.  I don’t know yet if krak missiles will be totally sidelines in 6th, but they certainly aren’t going to be the kings of the battlefield anymore.

3.  Fire Dragons.  These took a big hit.  In 5th, melta was so vital that their existence was the only thing that kept Eldar on the map after the novelty of Bike Seer Councils wore off.  In 6th, melta is so much less vital.  Except against Land Raiders, melta isn’t required to stop vehicles reliably.  Now, any high strength weapon with decent rate of fire can do it reliably.  Melta appears to have gone from a generalist weapon, to a specialist weapon.  Since Eldar do not get cheap Lance weapons, they still need their melta to stop certain threats, so Fire Dragons are still obligatory.  So while they are still obligatory, they go from being a 5 star unit to a 3.5 star unit.  Also, you Eldar players are probably going to find that in a world where AP1 and AP2 is very valuable, you have a codex with no Plasma guns on infantry, and Fusion Guns will serve as a bad version of a Plasma Gun.  I predict Fire Dragons will be shooting a lot of shots at Paladins and Nobz in the coming months until you get a new codex with cheap lances, and Star Rifles (or something like that to fill the Plasma role).

4. Fateweaver.  Say what you will about Fatecrusher being a noob slayer: it’s powerful.  Fateweaver was previous stopped by focus firing and running him off the table or just killing him.  But, as many armies were composed of single shot missiles, there was a decent mathematical chance of him surviving the turn.  In 6th, I predict that the average rates of fire will tick upwards across most armies.  If this is so, Fateweave may be in serious trouble.  A world of 12 missile shots per turn at his head was scary.  A world with 24 autocannon shots per turn coming his way is a death sentence.  Oddly enough, if Autocannons come to replace missiles where possible, Fateweaver will get worse.  But the Bloodcrushers will get better.  Curious!

5.  Vulkan.  So the stuff I said about melta for Fire Dragons?  It is a knock against Vulkan too.  In 5th, marine armies having enough melta was absolutely crucial to success, and Vulkan made that game plan even better.  The fact that he also buffed Thunderhammers (which were super good) and Flamers (also good) was a bonus.  As melta goes, so goes Vulkan.  And in 6th it does not appear to be the game changer it was.  Oh but Thunderhammers.  They are good, but since they don’t do anything to vehicles anymore, they are Powerfists for all intents and purposes.  Which is fine, except outside of terminators you pay a points premium for them over fists, so bump that now.  Lastly, Flamers took a hit.  They were never mandatory in marine lists, but Heavy Flamers on a Speeder or combi-flamer on a sergeant were always strong in Vulkan lists. 

Those things are still decent, but with cover going from 4++ to 5++, the value of cover ignoring weapons is correspondingly less valuable.  In summary, all three things that Vulkan buffs are either directly nerfed, or paradigm shifted out of favor.  Vulkan, naturally then, went from being one of the best units in the game to being more marginal.  Still good, but not dominating.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Questions?

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