Escalation: Are Super Heavies That Hard to Kill?
Escalation has been the most controversial release by Games Workshop in as long as I can remember. People are making huge, sweeping accusations that Super Heavies are invincibile, their firepower is way more than anything else in the game and that they touch children at night. So with some simple math and logic, lets put at least one of those nasty rumors to rest.
Suppression vs Super Heavy Penalties
It is absolutely true, you cannot suppress a Super Heavy. You can't weapon destroy it, shake it, stun it or even immobilize it. It's not dead until it's dead. Realistically, this is a rule that makes super heavies relevant until their last HP is gone, and good! Without it, after a couple penetrating hits, your super heavy would be worthless. It is important to remember that some super heavy vehicles are going to obliterate potentially whole units at a time. If you are facing a Doomhammer with it's S10 Ap1 Ignore Cover, 10" Blast, DO NOT keep all your anti-tank weaponry in one place! Ideally, spread them out on multi-story ruins, then that massive blast will struggle to get effective shots.
So you can't suppress it, but instead, you're gaining VP's for killing it! Kill a super heavy and bam, here's +3 VP's. Many games are won by First Blood alone and that's a single point! On top of that, getting +1 to reserves and a pretty nifty Warlord table and I'd say that it's a wash to lose Suppression on one vehicle.
9 HP vs 3 x 3 HP
Lets compare things that are already in the game. How about 3 Leman Russes? Sure nobody takes them, but that's not the point, the point is that nobody is afraid of them. So lets compare that to a single Baneblade. The least number of shots it takes to kill 3 Leman Russes is well, 3. If each of those pens and explodes, you've got 3 dead Leman Russes. Similarly, if you get 3 pens and roll 3 explodes, you will still cause 9 HP on average, thus killing a Baneblade. This is because each Explodes result actually causes D3+1 HP of damage, not just the D3 from the explode, but also the 1 from the penetrating hit. Unlike other vehicles though, every 3 HP of damage is not reducing the firepower you are taking in the face, so as I mentioned above, do not keep all your anti-tank in one place, and if possible, spread it out over as wide of an area as possible and take advantage of multi-story ruins.
Okay, that scenario is unlikely, so how about a much more common situation? What happens to those Russes (assuming they're a squadron) when you get 2 glancing hits and an explode result? The answer is that the explode result is totally redundant. You will kill precisely 3 HP worth of vehicle. Now, lets say that firepower was directed at the Baneblade instead? You would actually be causing 4-6 HP worth of damage from that same volley. Two of those volleys on average is a dead Baneblade, while it is only 2 dead Leman Russes.
Now, lets get to everyone favorite model to whine about, the Revenant. The Revenant is AV12 and ignores half the hits it takes and has the typical 9 HP. So lets think, what else have we faced that is even remotely similar? Well, 3 Wave Serpents with Holofields is 9 HP and ignores half the hits it takes from it's cover save, and they also have the ability to turn penetrating hits into glances! The Wave Serpents have the added advantage that they're not a single unit (like the Russes before), so it's entirely possible to overkill a Wave Serpent, while you cannot really overkill a super heavy. Have you killed 3 Wave Serpents before? Well then you've done exactly what it takes to kill a Revenant! Good for you!
Yes, Super Heavy vehicles are tough to kill, but they are no tougher to kill than things that you already are playing against. You won't be able to suppress it, but when you do kill it, your opponent is going to have an incredibly hard time catching up. Super Heavies are going to change the game, but instead of complaining, do some thinking about how to best handle the situation. It is much more fun to play a game where you well thought it out, than to just whine and cry about having to change the way you approach a game of 40k.