Monday, June 24, 2013

Warhammer Space Marine HQ's in a 6th Edition World

I have pondered this for a while:  where have all the Ultramarine's gone?

I looked at the codex and other than a slight points difference in the troops choices, I see very few reasons not to play this codex for what it has that others do not.  I'd estimate that you'd be OUT 50 points on your troops choices when its all said and done playing them rather than other variants like Space Wolves and while that isn't zero points, it's not as if it doesn't also come with some interesting payoffs in the form of characters and adaptable build availability.

I want to go down the list of interesting things about the heroes of this codex and how 6E may have valued them.  Maybe share some opinions on them.  I am not a frequent Space Marine player, but have faced them so many innumerable times and have read the codex so many times to know my enemy that it feels like I've always played them.  Most people probably feel that way, given the sheer volume of players who used that codex for so long.  Before the dark times.  Before the Blood Angels.

Captain Darnath Lysander is where it starts for me.  He's an incredibly effective model.  I used him in my Tau forces before the new codex dropped for Tau.  The need for a melee presence diminished a great deal in the new Tau codex and so I stopped using him but as a Space Marine HQ, he's pretty hard to beat for overall awesome value.  He bolsters your defenses like a TechMarine which is a terrific ability for allies and codex marines alike.  Nobody would argue that Eternal Warrior isn't awesome on any HQ, as First Blood and Warlord are critical points and you can snipe for both with some weapons.  His weapon is ruthless, and he makes a unit Twinlink their bolt weapons?  I mean...  if I could twin link a Tactical Squad how many of my 50 points did I get back?  How bout Gets Hot Vengeance Rounds in a Sternguard squad?  Oh yeah!

And your ENTIRE force is stubborn?  That's pretty nice.

I was beaten at a GT quite a few years ago by a girl who used Pedro Kantor.  She turned a seemingly sure victory into a jarring defeat, bringing waves of attacks I simply could not handle.  Now consider that in 6E context for a second.  In 6E we are always complaining about how "nerf'd" melee is.  But imagine applying this many attacks and you will not be AS concerned about how many got into melee will you be?  He also seems to compliment Sternguard well, making them scoring units.  Sternguard in Pods led by Kantor is a frightening prospect.  That kind of torrent could end an army pretty quickly and a group of Sternguard with 4 attacks on the charge?  Know anyone who ISNT intimidated by that?  I've seen this character used on several occasions and then finally against me.  It was an eye opener and Pedro may be a decent answer to the overwatch problem.

Antaro Chronus and Torias Telion are probably busts for the most part, and I have never seen them be worth the points spent.  outside of a force with Korsarro Khan, I am not sure I would spend the points on either one.  At least Torias has Acute Senses which is quite useful for reasons having nothing to do with offense.  But its a tough sell to tell you you really NEED either one of them.

Ortan Cassius is an under used character.  He's got a beefy Tougness of SIX, bolter wounds on 2's and he is a Chaplain so that means he makes someone a beatstick when they aren't shooting.  He's not expensive really so he allows list flexibility (which to me is kind of a big thing).  He's not going to go down in history as better than many of the other choices available but do you need him to be for that price?  Remember, he's designed to hang out with his buddies, not live on an island.  Liturgies of Battle takes even Tactical marines and makes them decent.  In 6E where you're spending points on Aegis Lines and the like outside the codex, I feel that a character like this allows you a little room to afford those things and he doesn't stink up the joint.  Food for thought.

Varro Tigurius is spendy.  He is valuable for his psyker powers but lets face it:  he just isn't very impressive for the points given the price of other Mastery Level 3 types, even if he does have awesome access to the Space marine spellbook.  Having said that, his strategic value in controlling when reserves do and do not come in should not be overlooked.  Now I speak as one who uses this kind of utility in his Autarchs, IG command groups and Tau whenever possible.  So the ability to do this is more attractive to ME than it might be to some.  I would consider it a serious challenge to justify Varro, but the possibilities he presents, if he gets priced differently in future codex's, could be something to look for in the future.  But not now.  6E doesn't like a lot of fat being added to HQ's, especially ones who aren't eternal warrior and ARE just two wounds anyways for that kind of price.  If you're going with ANY HQ with 2 wounds, he better be tough like Ortan.

Captain Cato Cisarius is an assassin.  He comes with better armor than a Tactical Terminator (and Feel No Pain if THAT isn't enough!), a Plasma pistol, plus a hard core blade that can whoop a Hive Tyrant in one shot.  He helps seize initiative, and bolsters the entire army with his LD; and a unit he doesn't even have to be a part of gets an awesome ability (likely Tank Hunter would be the best to choose but there are others).  In other words, he does a LOT for your force.  I was kind of surprised as I read in preparation for this article.  I can say honestly I've not seen ONE person take him.  That Plasma pistol is very accurate and he can be killing light transports and Riptides with equal glee.  If Combat Tactics is something you are adept at using to your advantage, this guy is a GREAT choice because you get to keep it while still gaining all these abilities unlike some of the other characters.  His price tag is the same as Darnath Lysanders, and so when I look at the two, I can see what people see in Darnath that they don't see in this guy.  After all Darnath will probably instakill on every blow against NORMAL targets.  But...  There is a lot to be said for having a cold blooded assassin like this in your force that can kill them all.  And his init 5 doesn't get stuck going last which means there's the possibility at least of him never being touched at all by his victim...Not that he'd probably feel it.  6E has introduced a lot of monsters lately.  It might be a good idea to do something about it.

Marneus Augustus Calgar is the ultimate HQ for the UltraMarines.  I doubt any WraithKnight wants to see him coming with his awesome melee ability and re-rolling to wound.  His men simply ignore attacks on their morale, such as what the Eldar Hemlock WraithFighter would allow you to do (In fact, an army I am testing now).  His AP 2 bolter is just mean and it doesn't miss.  The Orbital bombardment is an afterthought, a mere homage to his rank.  His real threat comes from his fists.  Just a truly awesome character...  I have faced him only a handful of times.  It seems impossible that someone so capable would be overlooked but he is the price of a Land Raider and I suppose that doesn't help his cause.  I can tell you however that in all the games against him, he was a difference maker.  In 6E he takes away list flexibility and you'll be giving something up to take him.  But he can singlehandedly eliminate so many things from affecting your army that he seems solid to me for 6E games.

My Space marine force is led by Kayvaan Shrike.  I am a motion offense oriented General.  He fits that perfectly and in fact was, in my opinion, better before 6E actually.  Fleet is by no means a bad deal, and giving it to an entire army is simply awesome on its own anyways, because here again, in 6E we want more surety in our charges.  Kayvaan solves such a big problem for Marines that way.  He's a fairly pedestrian commander in other ways, and you're paying 35 points for his added abilities above and beyond what a Captain might normally cost so he really is very reasonably priced.  He's not the combat monster other characters can be but in 6E where you just cant afford to be unreliably charging...  He's a good choice, I felt. 

Easily the most popular and common amongst the Vanilla marine commanders is Vulkan He'Stan.  The margin of popularity is not very close from all indicators I have seen.  He turns one of the most powerful units in 40K into even more fearsome monsters through his ability to Mastercraft Thunderhammers.  His skill in tuning Melta and Flame weaponry makes the most commonly taken weapons in the armoury that MUCH more attractive. especially in 6E where Flamers have become so much better.  He essentially plays to all the strengths of the Codex and so people take him like he's going out of style.  In a 6E world, where shooting has increased its role in the game, what more COULD you ask than that your most devastating melee threat get even better...and that your most devastating shooting attacks get better with them?
I would have a hard time arguing against this guy and that makes anything I might say about OTHER HQ's pale for some readers...and that's too bad.  I know for a fact from all the chatter online that most consider him one of the only "competitive builds" Vanilla Marines have anymore.  However you CAN find creative ways to employ the other HQ's.  Competitive types do gravitate to what one person I game with called "the obvious" instead of the "Stealth Cheese" excellence of some of these other choices.  Lets hope that this little review reminds people that there ARE choices!  Choices or not, Vulkan He'Stan is very very good.

I will end with Kor'Sarro Khan of the 3rd Comapny.  Furious charge, which his unit gets, has become less cool while Hit and Run has become more critical.  His ability to grant both are highly useful.  Letting your vehicles and other units outflank is pretty awesome to me.  I have used Dominion Squads to fantastic effect, and his ability to give that to anyone's unit in a transport is a BIG deal.  Imagine 3 Outflanking VINDICATORS.  My lord that would be rough!  I have personally seen how effective outflanking Bike units can be, specifically Attack Bikes coming in from all angles.  Assault Terminators able to arrive in a much safer configuration against Riptide Early Warning Systems would be a big boon.  Varro Tigurius comes to mind as a synergistic but INCREDIBLY expensive option.  The Comms Relay is a much cheaper way to get it.  However, if you THINK you want a Librarian for your force ANYWAYS, an Aegis with Comms Relay is a lot of points for a mobile army to be paying and in that odd scenario, you might ACTUALLY WANT to take Varro!  If you're going to pay for the Psyker anyways, why pay for both that and a Comms relay?  Odd but true, Varro could ACTUALLY make sense to take despite his exorbitant cost.  Controlling reserves is important business if you're going to use that tactic.
What limits the cool factor here is that now half your army must be on the table and not outflanking.  That little wrinkle in 6E puts a little damper on my enthusiasm for the possibilities.  Still, It is a viable force and it is an incredible force multiplier for someone like me who is highly adept at using tactics like this and positioning well for it and so on.  So I get a little excited about the many ideas I can come up with for using this guys ability but sorely wish it included the ability to break the Half on/Half off rule.

Well I have talked enough about all this.  Some will find this refresher course on Space marine characters easier than reading an entire codex.  Others will find it pointless since they have no intention of using anyone but Vulkan at tournies.  But for those who find the possibilities more interesting than the negatives, this post is for you.  =)

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