Monday, 25 November 2013

Raukaan Roll!

So, the Iron Hands Supplement.  Yeah, yeah, I know it’s technically Clan Raukaan, but for me it’s the Iron Hands book.  Sadly, the dreams of a bona fide Iron Hands Special Character remain but the half formed imaginations of a madman, but at least we get something out of it.  I’ve had a brief look over it over the weekend and I’ll give you guys some impressions.  First things first, it follows a similar format to the other supplements.  A lot of fluff (60+ pages of iPad screens), some army list tweaks (but no new units) and some items to mess around with.

I’m not going to go the whole hog and go through every single item and new rule, for a couple of reasons, but I’ll mention a couple of interesting snippets.  I also (by way of further disclaimer) haven’t been through all the fluff yet, so don’t expect much from me on that score yet.  The inevitable question when dealing with these kinds of things is always the same: ‘Is it worth the money?’  I’m going to be honest and say no.  That’s not to say I regretted my purchase or that I’m not glad I got it, but on an objective scale, it’s not enough stuff to justify itself to the average buyer.  If you’re really into the Iron Hands or Clan Raukaan specifically, then you’ll probably enjoy the background and the rules tweaks and scenarios are nice and flavourful.  Unfortunately, the scenarios are probably going to be the part of the book I’ll get the least out of, as with pickup games and tournaments and the like, I'm probably just going to stick to the basic missions and leave it at that.  I might try to get someone in on them to try them out though, so you never know.
Right, let’s get into some rules chatter.  The army itself has to be chosen from the core Codex Space Marines and the Iron Hands Chapter Tactics (like you’d use anything else, really) and give a couple of unit tweaks.  With Raukaan rules Dreadnoughts (of all ilks) can be chosen as either Elites or Heavy Support, so you no longer need a Master of the Forge to unlock that option.  The other addition is that for each HQ choice, you can have two Techmarines instead of one.  Increase that to three if that HQ choice is a Master of the Forge.  I really like both of these rules, although the tactical benefit they’ll give you is somewhat limited.  Techmarines are expensive for one wound models, man.  The multi-Dread option without needing the Master-tax is nice though.  I’ll probably mess around with a couple of my lists to fit some more Techmarines in there though, because it’s such a thematic possibility, and it’ll look awesome!  The problem I’m finding is that there is always the temptation to load them down with more stuff.  You have your basic Techie for 50 points.  He packs a S8 AP1 power fist attack and a 2+ save, plus his ability to get your transports running again, making him a nice addition to many squads.  But them for another 25 points, you can give him an extra servo-arm attack, a twin-linked plasma pistol and a flamer, plus make him even more reliable in vehicle repair, which (let’s be honest) is a fairly good deal.  But by that point you’ve spent 75 points on a 1 wound character.  Well, at least servitors are cheap, if you want to run that way.  Nevertheless, for theme, there’s nothing better!  I really want to bodge together a hyper Command Squad by attaching a bunch of Techmarines to it.  How awesome would that look?  Ignore the points.  Please.
We get a new Warlords table, and I have to say I really like it.  It runs a nice gamut of abilities, but they are all useful.  A couple of particular note are the result that lets your Warlord repair vehicles even if he’s not a Techmarine (if they can already repair, they get a reroll), and one result that allows you to use the old Chapter tactics rule from 5th and automatically fail Morale tests.  Given the way ATKNF and rallying works now, this is tactically very tasty indeed, allowing you to fall back from approaching assaults and disengage from disadvantageous close combats at next to zero risk to the unit (unless you’re a few inches from the table edge, that is).  A big thumbs up for this table from me!
Special items are interesting.  All of them are Relics recast.  If a character can chose from the Marine Relics, then they have to select from the Gifts of the Gorgon list instead.  You have some very nice items and some ‘eh’ fairly average options, but they all feel good.  There’s a librarian weapon that is essentially a Force Power Fist, a boosted power axe that becomes a power fist on rolls of a 6 to hit and even a helmet that houses a powerful comms system that allows your nearby units to use the HQ’s leadership and even reroll 1s to hit with shooting.  They specify that this item can be used even inside vehicles and building (which seems like an odd distinction to make, as that’s how everyone seems to play aura-effect items anyway).  But unlike the magic banners that become more inspirational when locked up inside a vehicle where no-one can see them, this helmet actually make sense in those terms.  It’s a comms network.  LoS isn’t a problem.  One odd thing about the Gifts list is that there are no restriction as to what you can take other than 'only 1 per army'.  No wepaon replacement, or distinctions as made as to which replace weapons and which do not.  I'll use my common sense on this one, but basically follow the same selection rules as the mainstream codex just to be on the safe side.
My favourite item is probably the Chains of the Gorgon, which provide defensive benefits based on how many time the character is wounded.  The trick is that it become less effective, the more wounded the bearer is, which is not what I would have expected.  It never gets worse than a 4+ invulnerable though.  It does mean that if your character is tooling around with a Command Squad , is wearing this and rolls the right result on the Warlord Table, you can be dealing with 3+ Feel No Pain roll.  Brutal!  I made a character using the regular Space Marines codex and built him for durability and tarpitting.  His name is Leythan Korduskaya, ‘The Wall’.  I think he may be getting an upgrade!  I really want this Mega Iron Council now!
So that’s my initial review of the release.  If you aren’t hardcore about the Xth, then it’s a definite miss for you, but that’s the way of these supplements from what I can tell.  Just know what you’re buying before you buy it.  If it’s just for the rules, I don’t think I can justify it to you.  I’m enjoying it though.
End Of Line.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Hands Over Fists: Ironclad Dreadnoughts

It’s fair to say that in 6th Ed, walkers have taken a bit of a hit with a confluence of the new rules working steadily against them.  Vehicles have got significantly less resilient with the Hull point and with the relative ease with which grenades and bombs can be slapped on them.  Combine that with Smash attacks and the walker situation can start to look very sad.  You may also notice that most of these new vulnerabilities in walkers are confined to assault.  Gunboat walkers are pretty much as viable as they always were.

Given that they are pretty integral to the Iron Hands chapter character and that they’re frickin’ awesome, it was never going to be in question that I would include some Dreads in my new Marine list.  The question was which type of dread.  Your standard one can pack a multitude of weapons and is fairly cheap, with the Venerable upgrade being massively reduced in price (presumably due to the lack of reliance on the Vehicle Damage Table to kill them now).  The Ironclads are back, relatively unchanged in cost and stats from last edition.  In the end (as evidenced by my previous post) I plumped for them instead of the more versatile regular Dreadnoughts.  There are a few reasons for this.

First is that I like assault and think it still has merit and importance in 6th edition, regardless of all the naysayers and the Iron Hands list I arrived at didn’t pack too much of that, so I felt I needed a presence there.  Second, the armour boost on all fronts does a great deal to boost survivability.  It’s now impossible to kill with bolters and shurikens, even from behind and is nigh-on krak-proof in close combat.  Third, is the look of the thing.  I really like the bulked out and armour-plated heft of the Ironclad, and I wouldn’t feel right using a gunboat dreadnought in an Iron Hands list as it notably lacks one key physical asset. A hand. With tanks you can overlook that kind of thing, but ‘Noughts?  Couldn’t justify it to myself.

Right, so that’s the choice of dreadnought, but what about the loadout?  In the end, I ran with dual heavy flamer for the integrated weapons.  I could have gone for a meltagun there I suppose; try for some drop-pod tank killing (now made even easier with 6” disembark!), and ranged tank-killing is one thing may army distinctly lacks.  But I know the curse of the drop pod melta all too well.  I decided to focus on killing infantry and causing more widespread havoc in the backfield.  Also, I like the security of a weapon that doesn’t require a BS roll to hit anything.  They can also be used to blunt horde assaults before they start and clear out heavy weapons teams and firebases from even reinforced cover.  Seismic hammer or chainfist?  Much of a muchness for me really.  I’ve got one of each, although I think the Chainfist is a better performer for killing vehicles.  It certainly looks cooler.  It’s not a hand though, is it?  Everything else is pretty much barebones to cut down on points.

I’ve found them very useful as an intimidation tactic and a way to force my opponents hand.  Even if they fail to cause a single casualty when they turn up, they force a reaction.  Mobile vehicles have to get out of the way, assault troops or point holders have to assault or blockade it to prevent it getting to the firepower units at the back.  At the very least, they need to use firepower to bring the Dreads down that could otherwise be levelled at my scoring units and transports.  Using this, I can force the opponent into a reactive posture from the off and use the free time to manoeuvre my troops to better positions further up the field.  If possible, I can also rid Interceptors and Anti-air units of their crews, limiting the risk to my incoming Stormtalons.  If the Ironclads survive (and are mobile) into turn 2, that’s a bonus.  They’ve normally done their jobs by Turn 1…