Tactica Chaos Space Marines: Fast Attack
Heya fellow heretics and welcome back from your collective food comas of last week's celebration of American gluttony (mmm... turkey and pie...) that is Thanksgiving to The Dice Abide for the next installment of the Chaos Space Marine Tactica. This week is a little sparse in comparison to last week's considering how few options the codex has in terms of Fast Attack choices, so I'll also discuss the book's dedicated transport choice, the trusty Rhino, as well. Anyways, on to the analysis!
-Resilience. At toughness 4(5) with the ability to take an Icon of Nurgle (which stacks!) and Turbo Boost, these guys can be surpisingly tough to kill. Give them a couple of Meltaguns and you have a pretty big threat for a small amount of points that is very resistant to anti-infantry fire.
-Makes for a great assault unit. 12" move with Pistol/CCW and the option for an Icon of Khorne or Slaanesh can make a unit of bikes into a mean little assault unit for picking off back-field support (like Long Fangs).
-High Leadership. At Ld 10 with a champ, a small unit of these guys is less likely to run away when they lose a model or two from enemy shooting (and you likely will). Couple that with an Icon of Chaos Glory and you're probably not running away until you're dead.
-Wargear Options: The Chaos Bikers have some pretty normal options for a Bike unit: 2 special weapons, a unit leader who can take a Power Weapon/Fist, a Plasma Pistol and Meltabombs. The only big difference here is the inclusion of the Icons, which add a lot of utility to the unit, making them tougher or better in assault.
-Cost. While only 3 points more than Space Marine Bikers (the cost of which I would assume is to give them the Close Combat Weapon and the higher leadership stat), they're still a very big points sink if you want to take a unit of them. 3 with an Icon of Nurgle (which is my favorite icon for them) is nearly 150 points, which is a bit much for 3 models who still die pretty easily to Plasma fire.
-Must specialize to be effective. Looking at the wargear for the unit, you basically get to be an assault unit with no special weapons (unless you take an Icon of Khorne, which offsets the loss of the CCW) or an anti-tank unit. I personally like running them at 3-5 with an Icon of Nurgle and Power Fist to pick off important objective campers or support units. That said, they don't really have a lot of flexibility in their role in the army and are a bit too much of an investment to not have a wide variety of uses.
-Versatility in comparison to normal Assault Squads. The Raptors cost as much as a standard MEQ Assault Squad but have many options they do not. The Icons, for one, add a lot of power to the unit at a relatively low cost (though I would suggest only taking the Icon in Slaanesh, Khorne or Nurgle flavors). You also get earlier access to 2 special weapons (you can take them immediately as opposed to 1 every 5 members of the squad).
-Wargear Options: The Raptors can take a large number of special weapons in a relatively small unit, with 2 members able to swap out for a special weapon or Plasma Pistol and the Champion can have a Plasma Pistol himself. The Champion also has the normal Power Weapon/Fist/Lightning Claws upgrade options, which only become better with the various icons.
That said, of the 5 available Icons, I would only realistically consider 3 of them. The Khorne icon makes these guys into a blender of S4 attacks, giving them 4 on the charge (5 for the champ). Slaanesh gives you the ability to strike before MEQ units, which can be very important to a specialized assault unit. Lastly, the Icon of Nurgle gives you a bit more survivability against opposing strike-backs in assault. It's honestly up to you, but an Icon really helps these guys stand out and hold their own.
-Fragile. Let's face it, 5th edition is the game of units in transports. That said, if these guys had the option to swap out their Jump Packs for a Rhino (like some other codecies I know) this wouldn't be an issue. Since they can't take the cheap armored box to protect them from anti-infantry fire, they die rather fast, especially for the price tag.
-Cost. A minimum unit of these guys is 100 points. If you go back and look at the Elites article, you'll notice you can get almost as many Terminators for that price and, not only are they just more survivable with their 2+/5++ but they can actually be transported if need be. The extra mobility of the Jump Packs just doesn't really make up for the fact that an opposing unit with some special weapons will carve them up before they will realisitically get to do their job.
-Deceptively tough. At toughness 5 with 3 wounds each, Spawn can be surprisingly tough to deal with. They make for a decent tarpit against MEQ and it just gets better if your opponent is at lower than strength 4.
-Beast unit type. Having a 12" charge range kind of makes up for being Slow and Purposeful.
-Don't eat up a Fast Attack FOC slot. This means you can take as many spawn as you really want to. Not sure why you'd want to, in all honesty, but that's where we come to this...
-No armor save. These guys will eat a lot of fire and will get either a cover save against it or nothing. Postiioning can lessesn this issue a bit, but you'll never get a real armor save. Then there's the fact that Spawn are Fearless so you'll just straight lose wounds and models every time you lose combat. Fortunately, since you're natural toughness 5, you can't be autokilled by most anti-tank weapons which you wouldn't get an armor save against anyways, there there's always that.
-Extremely random. Slow and Purposeful coupled with Mindless means they're at best unreliable and at worst a waste of points while your opponent leads them around by the nose or they continue to roll below average for SNP rolls and/or they roll terribly for numbers of attacks. Then again, if you're taking spawn, you know what you're getting into.
-Cost. 40 points per model for something with no save and no ability to transport itself which will move, on average, 4 inches a turn. Not a terribly good investment if you ask me, especially considering how many other good points sinks there are in the book for around that many points.
-Cost. There's a damn good reason the Rhino chassis is the poster-boy for MEQ in 5th edition. 35 points for something that can (somewhat) safely transport a unit into the thick of it while also giving them a Fire Point to shoot their special weapons out of is just something you can't really scoff at. I heard Mobility with little loss of combat effectiveness was hot.
-Easy to get cover saves/block line of fire. The Rhino chassis is very easy to hide behind cover, so after that first turn or smoke, you should have no issue getting hull down until you don't really need it anymore. And nothing is more frustrating to an opponent when you throw an empty Rhino sideways in front of an enemy unit to tell them "you either have to kill this useless block of 35 points blocking you from advancing or go around and waste movement doing so". This is probably my favorite use of the trusty Rhino.
-Repair. Like all Rhinos, the Chaos version is abile to repair "Immobilized!" results on a roll of a 6. It's not likely to happen, but it's nice when it does and gives the Rhino even more survivability (in essence giving it the ability to suffer multiple "Immobilized!" results before being destroyed).
-Upgrades: Chaos Vehicles don't have access to much in the way of upgrades, but those that the Rhino does get are very useful. Extra Armor is kind of useless when you consider Possession is only 5 points more and just flat out ignores 1/3 of the vehicle damage chart (add that on to the fact that you can repair "Immobilized" results and you basically have a transport you have to destroy to keep from being useful).
As for weapons, Havoc Launchers are somewhat useful as they're long range strength 5 re-rollable blasts. They're a bit on the expensive side, especially when being strapped to a vehicle almost as expensive as the gun itself. Combi-weapons, on the other hand, are amazing little points investments as you pay 10 points to make your Rhino into a pseudo-cruise missle with a single Meltagun shot (I've caught many an opponent unaware by hitting a tank with a close range Rhino shooting a Meltagun into an expensive tank and blowing it up for the low, low price of 45 points).
-AV11. While able to shrug off Strength 4 and less, traditional anti-tank should have little issue punching through Rhino armor. Also, AV10 rear means that even normal assault squads should have no issue at least glancing you to death (heaven forbid they have a Power Fist or Meltabombs).
Anyways, that's all for this week. I'm aware that the Land Raider is a dedicated transport but I would prefer to cover it in more detail in the next article. Speaking of which, next time we meet, we'll go over the plethora of great Heavy Support choices available to the slaves of darkness. Until then, don't forget to take a few skulls for Khorne while you're out Christmas chopp.. er.. I mean, shopping!