Tuesday, 8 July 2014

A look at super heavies - and how to kill them!

Hi all! Hope you’re well, today I’m going to talk about super heavy vehicles, specifically their strengths, weaknesses and ways to counter them in your games.
I should note to start, that I really don’t like Super Heavies. I don’t think that your opponents should be able to use them without agreeing it with you first, and I think on the whole they are pretty much under-costed in terms of points. That being said though, what are the rules like?

Well for starters, super heavy vehicles bring unparalleled firepower to the battlefield – the imperial guard variants in particular can bring more guns to the fight than many armies (ok I’m exaggerating, but only just…). Just to make things worse, they aren’t limited to shooting at a single target either, as they can target whichever unit they like with whichever weapon is most suited to them without worrying whether they moved or shot an ordnance weapon.

Turning to defensive aspects then, what are the merits of super heavy vehicles? Let’s start at the beginning then, they’re big. Sounds obvious, but defensively speaking, if you’ve got a massive tank sitting in your deployment zone, it’s fairly easy to hide most things behind it until they need to come out to play.
Added to this, the vast nature of the vehicles means that they ignore all damage results – the only way to kill them is to remove every last hull point (though an explodes result takes off one for the penetrating hit and another D3 for the explosion). This also applies to weapons with special rules that automatically wreck/destroy vehicles.

Secondly, many of these vehicles have a transport capacity, meaning they are able to carry significant numbers of troops, up to 40 in the case of the Stormlord, meaning that anything that gets close for combat purposes can be counter-charged instead. Add to this, super heavy vehicles cause fear, so any models that do manage to charge it will still have to pass a leadership test in order to strike it using their weapon skill (remember the super heavy will always count as WS1 since it cannot be immobilised). As a final nail in the coffin, and one I found out to my cost at the weekend, once you do manage to remove that last hull point, particularly if you did so in combat, the vehicle suffers a catastrophic damage roll. That means that you centre the apocalyptic damage marker over the vehicle centre then scatter it, and anything under the marker is hit by one of three profiles depending on the distance from the centre, with a choice of three different levels of explosion determined by a dice roll. This meant that my marine captain and his bike squad, who’d manfully charged the Stormlord and took its last hull points with krak grenades got wiped out by a D strength explosion. Thankfully, this explosion also hits everything carried on the transport so of the 30+ models embarked on it, 6 survived the explosion.

So how to take them down? Well quite frankly there are two options, you either bring a serious amount of firepower capable of causing glancing hits (haywire weapons are particularly useful here) or you bring a good number of anti tank guns. My success came mainly from a trio of Centurion Devastators with twin linked lascannons, chest missile launchers, and Imperial Fists Chapter Tactics to give them the Tank Hunters special rule. I also got some good dice rolls, with penetrating hits rolling high and any explosion result coming up with the maximum three hull points for damage. They saw 5 hull points taken down in the first turn, two of which were restored by enginseers carried in the hold, and they then took another four in the second turn, with the captain’s assault causing the final two glances required to destroy it.

Other armies, such as Necrons, bring the ideal tools to take down these vehicles with their gauss weapons stripping hull points for fun. Lance weapons are also useful, as their effect of reducing armour values applies, even though damage results that permanently reduce the armour values have no effect.

For marines, sternguard and command squads in drop pods are the perfect anti super heavy tonic with the sheer number of melta weapons they can brandish.

Ultimately though, if you find yourself facing one of these vehicles, there’s one thing you need to remember above all others. Focus. Every weapon in your army that is capable of hurting it needs to shoot at it as early and as accurately as possible. Use divination to increase the efficiency of your heavy weapon units, make use of twin linked weapons, anything with the Tank Hunters rule, and keep shooting at it until it’s dead. Most super heavies aren’t combat-capable (with a couple of notable exceptions) so krak grenades or their equivalent in combat are usually capable of causing at least glancing hits, and as in my case, with just a couple of hull points left that can make all the difference.


Avoid their shooting – out of sight is better than in cover, though in cover is better than nothing. Don’t rely on your armour to save you though, as very few weapons they carry are less than AP3

Keep the pressure on – You absolutely cannot allow these vehicles free reign on the field, so use all your available firepower to take them down before they devastate your army.