Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Codex review: Space Marines - Troops

Good evening all,
and welcome to part 2 of my space marine codex review (part 1 here) and today I'm going to be looking at the Troops section, including the dedicated transports.

Tactical Squad
The basic unit that makes up the bulk of space marine fighting forces when you read their background (they outnumber other squad types about 3:1), so it needs to be a solid foundation, and with toughness 4 and a 3+ save, they're certainly solid.

Equipment: Standard issue boltgun, they also come with two types of grenade and a bolt pistol, which gives them options against almost anything without any upgrades. The boltgun is a beast of a basic armament, as anyone whose troops only come with a 5+ or worse save will testify (my kabalite warriors do not like bolters. at all). When you add in the bolt pistol, it gives them an option for use if they need to assault. Tactical marines come with a single attack so they're unlikely to roll over much in close combat, but if you add in a round of shooting with bolt pistols first, and remember that with frag grenades they're never going to have to worry about charging into cover, the krak grenades at S6 provide an option for taking down tanks in close combat too.

Weapon options: This is where the tactical flexibility of the squad is where they really come good, with 4 special weapon types and 5 heavy weapon types, the only downside being the impact they have on the use of the bolters. The flamer is anti personnel and is a good choice, provided you're happy getting the squad up close, the plasma gun combines well as its range and type are exactly the same as the bolter, and its strength and AP give the squad some punch. The melta gun is less useful on its own, as it's very short ranged and ideally anti-tank, so needs backup through the multi melta and perhaps a combi melta for the sergeant. The new kid on the block is the grav gun, and people are generally raving about it. Personally I'm less convinced, as it's such a situational weapon because it wounds on a roll to match the target's armour save (at AP2). Fine if you're picking weapons specifically tailored to your opponent, less so if you need to take a general list say for a tournament, because you could quite easily end up facing a guard or similar army and it then becomes a negative to the squad's shooting. The heavy weapon options don't synergise with the flamer unless you're using combat squads, but the other options do boost the shooting. The only weapon I'd steer clear of here is the lascannon, because it's so very specifically anti-tank where the tactical marines are generally anti-infantry. The sergeant can take any melee or ranged weapon you like, and the combi weapons are a good way to complement your special and heavy weapon choices. The sergeant can also take melta bombs, making him a good option if you're thinking you might be up close and personal against tanks/transports.

The sergeant can be upgraded for an extra attack and point of leadership - to be honest though for the points and taking into account the 'and they shall know no fear' rule I'd leave him as the basic choice. Then you can add in a teleport homer to give yourself options to really bolster the line with terminators.

Favourite build: I'd say a full 10-man squad with meltagun and multi melta, with the sergeant carrying a combi melta to make a tank busting unit. Stick them in a drop pod and combat squad them to see your opponent panic a bit as you vapourise a tank and claim an objective or two.

Scout Squad
Basically they're cheaper than marines, but with less resilience, shooting and combat ability. They do have a few good options though and they certainly fulfil a different role to the tactical squad.

Equipment: As with the tactical squad, they come with boltgun, bolt pistol and both grenades. Same comments apply really in relation to the tactical squad, with the exception of the lower ballistic and weapon skills of the scouts meaning they're less efficient at both roles.

Weapon options: You can upgrade the scouts to carry sniper rifles, making them great for pinning opponents and taking down characters, close combat weapons make them a bit more effective up close, and shotguns churn out plenty of shots, but they're pretty weak. They have two heavy weapon options, including flakk missiles, and both synergise well with the sniper rifles as they're heavy type as well, but if you're interested in keeping your scouts on the move, then leave the heavy weapons to other units. As with the tactical squad, the sergeant can take combat and ranged upgrades, and this is probably where I'd take the teleport homer given their ability to infiltrate onto the table.

Finally the scouts can also take camo cloaks, adding 1 to their cover save (crucially this is in addition to any benefit from the stealth or shrouded rules)

Favourite Build: 10 men with sniper rifles - never underestimate their potential, I've taken down 4 terminators in a turn with these guys thanks to the rending rule.

Crusader Squad
This is a specifically Black Templars formation, and combines scout squads and tactical squads into a single blob of up to 20 models. Interestingly, 5-man crusader squads can take one special and one heavy weapon option giving the crusader squad a much higher ratio of weapon options than the tactical squad. The main difference however is the option to exchange their boltguns for chainswords, making them a viable close combat scoring option, and they also have the potential to take a power weapon or power fist without using a character model, thus preventing it from being wiped out in a challenge. Other than that, the crusader squad functions in a similar way to the tactical squad.

Favourite build: It has to be really, 10 initiates and 6 neophytes all equipped for close combat and transported in a land raider crusader

Dedicated Transports

Rhino: Its biggest drawback is the fact that it's likely to give up first blood to your opponent. It can repair itself however if you're lucky, and it's perfectly capable of transporting a unit to where it needs to be, which is the point after all.

Razorback: Same drawback as the Rhino, but the weapon option can boost your firepower significantly, Particularly in terms of giving you an anti tank option via twin lascannons. The sacrifice is carrying capacity, but if you combat squad, the razorback is a good option for getting one squad closer to the enemy.

Drop pod: Probably the premier 'transport' option for the space marines, it's pretty safe against most things, guarantees you can get troops into your opponent's deployment zone early, which often causes problems, and can be a real pest later in the game as it comes with a weapon option but isn't a priority target.

Land speeder storm: Only transports scout units, it's lightly armoured and only has two hull points. Don't expect much from it, in fact if you can hide it away until the end of the game that's probably its best use, transporting a unit of scouts to claim an objective late on.