Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Space Marines 6th Edition Drop: Kerplunk!

I'm a Space Marine fan boy. It all started with Jim Burns' box art for Space Marine featuring epic battles in the age of heresy. At the time, this picture mingled feature's of Darth Vader's helmet with a hint of Sardaukar and the Roman Empire- I was hooked.

Needless to say, I was very excited about Space Marine's 6th Edition codex. I wondered if Space Marines would receive provisions to answer Tau-Dar? Would Space Marines have the tools to counter a Heldrake on their own? What about Wave Serpents?

I got my hands on the book ,and it looks like more is more (referring to the points decrease for troop units). Marine hordes are coming to a table near you!  First, I want to lament Dark Angels because this book has made them all but obsolete- and that really sucks. I'm sure the die-hard fan will still field the 1st Legion, and the superior general will use them effectively; but I believe that the Dark Angels book really got the short end of the stick this edition.

Back to the Space Marines: What immediately stood out to me was the change to Chapter Tactics from the previous edition. Seven unique marine chapters' received their own version of chapter tactics in the codex- and they are interesting.

Ultramarines get three, once per game special abilities called combat doctrines; tactical, assault, and devastator. Tactical gives the entire army the ability to re-roll 1s on the turn it is used (tactical squads get to re-roll all failed to hit rolls). Assault gives assault based units fleet, and all units the ability to re-roll charge range. Devastator allows all units to re-roll snap-shots, and gives Devastator squads relentless. Hold on- that is unless the squad steps out of a transport that turn (so no relentless out of a drop pod, heh).

White Scars- wow. Bikes auto-pass dangerous terrain tests, and get +1 to jink, and an extra point of strength when resolving their hammer of wrath hits. Combined with Korsorro Khan as your warlord White Scar bikes get scout, too. Geeeeez, do you think bikes got cheaper? Oh yah, they did! Make these bikers troops already and say, 'bye, bye' Ravenwing.

Imperial Fists get bolter drill and siege masters. Bolter drill gives all Imperial Fists the ability to re-roll 1 results when firing bolt weapons. Siege masters provides tank hunter rule to Devastators and Devastator Centurions- that's pretty cool. The question is are Centurions worth the points (and worth the scratch)?

Salamanders get to re-roll failed rolls to wound with flamer weapons, and, get to re-roll their saves against flamer weapons. If you include Hestan as your warlord, then Salamander units equipped with melta count the weapon as master crafted.

Ironhands get a 6+ FNP (meh), and all vehicles and characters have the 'it will not die' rule. Techmarines also get to add 1 to their blessing of the Om roll.

Ravenguard jump pack units get to use their jump packs in the movement and assault phase in the same turn (THIS is what I had expected for Blood Angels- its really cool, even if assault is dead).
Ravenguard units also get the scout and stealth special rules on the first turn of the game... that is as long as said units aren't bulky and very bulky (so those cool assault squads with jump packs don't get to be all stealthy first turn setting up a second turn assault. Lame.)

Black Templar characters when in a challenge get to re-roll all failed to wound rolls, and gain the rending special rule. BT also get Crusader squads. Crusader squads base cost are the cost of a Land Raider minus 180 points, and, can take a special weapon and heavy weapon (The best of the best MSU)! They can also take Land Raider Crusaders as dedicated transports (go figure!).

Warlord Traits: Most of the named HQ units were assigned specific warlord traits from the codex book (oh cool, one less random thing to generate rolling dice before a game). On the other hand, Calgar gets to roll three dice and pick his favorite.

Angel of Death: The warlord and his unit have the fear special rule. Yawn
The Imperium's Sword: The warlord and his unit have furious charge until the end of that assault phase. No thanks.
Storm of Fire: The warlord gives on friendly unit the ability to re-roll any failed to hit rolls. meh.
Rites of War: Friendly units within 12 inches of the warlord use his leadership for morale tests. Not bad.
Iron Resolve: When determining assault results add +1 to your total if your warlord is locked in combat. No.
Champion of Humanity: If your warlord slays your opponent's warlord, earn D3 victory points. Okay.
So, two (maybe three) warlord traits even worth looking at?

I'm going to talk about some of the units that made an initial impression on me:

Tigurius is crazy cool: 85 points less than a land raider, he is a mastery level three psyker that can roll on any of the psychic tables, and can re-roll any or all of those dice rolls! If that wasn't enough, Tiggy allows a player to choose to re-roll any reserve roll for units of the Ultramarines. If that wasn't enough, he can re-roll failed psychic tests (wha-wa?). Talk about a good buy for the points!

Grav Guns are a new weapon that Space Marines can equip and come in three flavors: Pistol, gun, and cannon. The cannon may only be equipped by Centurions. The weapons roll to wound using the target's armor value (minimum of six)- therefore a grav weapon would wound a marine in Terminator armor on 2+. When shooting at a vehicle, rolling a six immobilizes and removes a hull point from said vehicle; 1-5 does nothing.  Grav weapons are going to be great at taking out Centurions (the new, big, expensive, Space Marine unit). Grav weapons sound fun, but, I'm not convinced that they knock out plasma in terms of utility.

What are Centurions, you ask? Oh, you know they are the Space Marine's version of a Matroyshka doll: A space marine in power armor 'nests' inside Centurion armor- pretty cool, huh? I KNOW! What could beat armor, nestled in armor, armor!? I don't particularly care for the aesthetics of the Centurion model (they are fugly), and are relatively expensive in terms of points. Oh well, if the unit is powerful enough, we can just double bag when we drop it on the table, right? Hell ya! I mean, aesthetics and cost didn't stop everyone from using a Stormraven!

Centurions come in two flavors: Assault Centurions and Devastator Centurions. I don't see Assault Centurions getting to where they need to before getting blown off the table. Okay, slap them into a Land Raider, and maybe- but at that point you're dedicating A LOT of points on a slow and purposeful unit to work. Pass- sit next to those mutilator guys on the bench, assault centurions!

Here's the thing; Three devastator centurions' cost 60 points less than a land raider and come stock with a tl heavy bolter and a hurricane bolter. The hurricane bolter can be replaced with a missile launcher (frag, krak) for under 20 points. Centurions' may also swap their heavy bolter for a TL lascannon, or a grav amp grav cannon for around 20 points. They are toughness 5, with two wounds, but, are slow and purposeful and very bulky. No teleport or deep strike capabilities so they're either walking across the board or they ride in a land raider.

Hmm... new toys will most assuredly see table time, but, they are competing in a highly competitive slot as it is. Here is my honest question: Why should I drop a couple of Benjies for a couple of boxes of Centurions- 150 bucks-ish, when I can just field stuff I already own that is just as good, or better? Devastator Centurions have the capacity to pack a lot of firepower, but, will need to seek cover to avoid getting smooshed by Grav weapons! They can also take a grav amp which allows for grav weapons' re-rolls to wound, and to determine effects on vehicles (so a 17% chance to immobilize a vehicle and strip a hull point becomes 34%).

Its too bad that Centurions cannot deep strike, or, get some sort of invulnerable save. You have two choices: Invest further in this already expensive unit and purchase a Land Raider to carry these fella's on the battlefield, or, let them walk.

Thunderfire Cannons got a boost: For 150 points less than a land raider you get a toughness 7 arty that fires four small blast templates, manned by a Techmarine Gunner. The Techmarine can bolster defenses and perform 'blessing of the om', but does not seem to turn into an IC after the gun is destroyed as in the previous codex edition (random), which is now a barrage weapon. Man, I'm so glad I grabbed up a couple of these units, but, with the ability for marines to ally with marines I could conceivably field 3 or 4 TF Cannons! I'm kicking myself for not scooping up a third cannon, as you can better believe they will be going for a premium!

The new Hunter and Stalker are priced 180 and 185 points cheaper than a land raider, respectively. The units are AV 12, 12, 10; both anti-air and have the skyfire special rule. Unfortunately, neither were given interceptor, and can only snap shot at ground units. The Hunter fires a str 7 ap 2 missile with a funky homing rule. In the event that the missile misses the turn it is fired, a marker is placed near the target. If the target does not leave the table in the following turn, the missile has another chance to roll to hit in the controlling player's following turn of shooting.

Kinda cool.

The Stalker has an Icarus Cannon array which translates to four, str 7 ap 4 shots- twin linked. A player may also choose to split those shots at a second target, however, they are no longer twin linked and count as ballistic skill 2.  Hmm...I have about 9 rhino chassis collecting dust. I would not be opposed to purchasing the sprues necessary to make the Hunter and Stalker in order to test them out. Pretty cheap, viable solutions to anti-air. For someone that doesn't want to ally in Tau to keep those Heldrakes' and Vendettas' at bay- these AA tanks aren't bad solutions. Personally, I'm leaning toward the Stalker at this point. I like the multiple, twin-linked shots. The fact that both tanks have a higher front and side armor than a standard Rhino chassis is really cool (and really tempting). Good thing the book can ally with itself in order to take more

Both tanks offer an anti-air solution for Space Marines and have better armor than a standard Rhino chassis.  Setting aside the points for a couple of these units in your army may not be optimal for all match ups, but, will provide a nice counter for Heldrakes and Vendettas. Skyfire also allows the Stalker and Hunter to shoot at skimmers- hello Wave Serpents! Taking a couple of Stalkers for 100 points less than a Land Raider can provide one more cheap answer to Wave Serpent spam.

Honorable mentions go to the Legion of the Damned who get to re-roll their scatter dice upon entering from reserve, and get to ignore cover. Fortunately, the unit also gets a 3+ invulnerable save, as LotD are slow and purposeful. 

Likewise the Landspeeder Storm is now a dedicated transport that scouts can take. Unfortunately, the Storm can only carry a maximum of five scouts- hey; it only costs 205 points less than a Land Raider, AND, no longer takes up a slot in the FOC.

There are some cool Chapter Relics available in the Space Marines codex. For instance, The Shield Eternal is a storm shield that also provides the wielder with admantium will and eternal warrior. Teeth of Terra is a chainsword that adds two strength and has the special rule(s) strike down, and rampage- nasty!

To sum it up the book seems pretty well balanced, as I didn't see anything that looked broken at first glance. Space Marine troops got cheaper, overall, and more bodies on the table mean better chances to outlast an opponent's shooting (and more money in Gee Dub's coffers).
Warlord traits offered in this book are overall lame. There are a couple that aren't bad, but, in context most of the time I'd prefer to roll in the BRB.
White Scars has given every player that has (or has wanted to) field a Space Marine biker army hope! Hedge those bets since the White Scars supplement is slated to be out SOON! In all this big book was worth the 25% off retail price. I sure as hell wouldn't pay retail, or, purchase the collector's edition dust cover for double the price.


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