Sunday, December 22, 2013

Codex: Space Marines Centurion Devastator Sqauds

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not typically a Space marine player simply because in 4th and 5th Edition you couldn't take one step without bumping into a Space Marine player, but of course like everyone, I got a TON of experience playing against them and knowing them almost better than I did my own codex because their rules were omnipresent in front of me.

The Centurion models got a lot of hate when they came out and their cost and base size made them even less popular before they'd even seen the table so it took me a while to actually see them in action.  Like so many things, what's on paper is not as informative as the reality of it in a game, with terrain, with the various missions and deployments at work and so when I finally got to see them in action I could only think of one word:  Yes.

Though the aesthetic may not be pleasing, these are really excellent.  First off they are able to move and fire (slow and Purposeful) their entire barrage of shots.  On its own, a Salvo weapon that fires five times with ANY kind of shell let alone an AP2 weapon is a force to be reckoned with.  A Centurion can actually fire six more than that (AP 5) at short range!  That is just enormous when you consider the possibility of six of these things in a unit.  In the shooting phase, there will not be very many units that can withstand firepower of that magnitude at short range.

Their 2+ armor and two wounds at toughness 5 makes them attractive for all the reasons Obliterators were attractive for so long.  Clearly these were envisioned as the predecessor of becoming a warp altered Daemonic Obliterator. Their inclusion in the codex seems natural when you think about it that way, even if it was jarring to Space Marine players.  Trust me:  they will be MORE jarring to non-Space Marine players in practice.

You have three ways of deploying them essentially.  First is dropping them from a Storm Raven.  I've seen it done and if you have the balls, and aren't one of those who always poo poos any kind of risk, this might work for you.  Honestly I don't suggest it because there is just so much shooting to be done and letting them do it seems like a REAL sound strategy.  Also this usually leads them to be awfully close to enemies who can tie them up.

The second way to deploy it is the Land Raider.  being Very Bulky, you can't fit many into a Land Raider BUT this is a very legitimate way to get them up there and firing fast.  They will definitely take fire away from the Raider unless they use the eve of the Land Raider to hide behind and start on a flank so that they can nibble their way across the enemy lines like an angry Pac-Man.

The third is to deploy them out there from the get go.  24" range for most of their weapons is going to mean that careful deployment is super necessary, but if you're going second  this presents very few drawbacks.  The points you might have spent on a Land Raider can easily be spent on the unit itself as ablative padding and the firepower you gain more than compensates for what you lost in the Raider.  I will say that the Raider makes a lot of sense if going first though, since the enemy CAN counteract your range and make you pay for it.  The best bet might be to have the Raider just in case.  Another option is if you take allies that can help with stealing initiative, ou might risk going without the Raider.  The cost of the Raider is such a drain that I cannot say that either option is entirely without its possibilities.

Clearly there are some serious downsides to this unit.  It can't overwatch, and they have but one attack.  So it becomes imperative, if you're going to use them, that you include "interceptor units" to stop melee oriented units from simply bogging them interminably.  They have no power weapons, and cannot sweep a unit away so there is little deterrent for an enemy to try.   Even the most basic marine unit is used cost effectively to tie them up, as is anything assault capable, stubborn, or fearless.  small interceptor units make a lot of sense as both mobile cover as well as assault defense and wound ablation.  Centurion Devastator fortitude is meant to stop shooting, not assaults.

Unit size is another issue.  Interestingly, you can take 6 of these things in a unit.  Some would seriously question whether you should, but here's my take on it:  you're not really doing it to survive better.  You'd be doing it to UTTERLY stop the enemy dead, so that no charge is even possible.  Orks and Kroot provide prime examples of where massed bolter fire is more important than their Salvo 5 Graviton Guns.  But you will need a lot more bolters to kill the orks than what 3 Hurricane bolters provide.  Against hordes like that, it is best to leave no doubt as to the fate of that unit.  Overkilling orks with Bolter fire will help you forget how ineffective the Graviton weapons are against armor that is 6+ because the Graviton weapons wound on the save of the model, a 6+ in the case of kroot, orks many tyranids and others.  Also with larger units you have at least a snowballs chance of driving lesser races away in melee so you can keep doing what you do.  That will seem exorbitantly expensive to do but really if you're in good position...  what have you to worry about on cost?  So think about unit size.  Might be a unit worth maxing out despite the price tag.

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