Follwing on from December's post:
But that’s enough of me complaining. What about the good things with Techmarines? Yes, there are good things, so I can’t pout too much. Here we go. You may have noticed that in my previous griping post, I was going on and on about how they are nowhere near as good as they used to be in combat. But that’s a little too narrowly focused to be a fully valid complaint. Techmarines are a lot easier to accept when you realise that their role has become more of a support than it was before. They used to be a nice close-combat surprise with an added ability to repair vehicles and do the whole Dreadnought unlock thing. Now, with Hull points being very much de rigeur in 6th edition, their repair ability becomes much more of a primary focus. In 5th ed (and you may be spotting a theme here), vehicle destruction was very much in the lap of raw chance with that bloody damage table. Vehicles could keep going forever if your opponent kept rolling those ones on the table. Now, with Hull Points, vehicles die quicker, but are functional and useful for longer (snap firing’s still better than no firing). It’s very difficult to stop a vehicle firing without killing it completely.
The ability to restore hull points can be crucial when dealing with attrition, especially in the higher AV units that are more likely to receive glancing than penetrating hits. As to whether that ability alone is worth the points, I would hazard not, unless you have entire vehicle firebase at the back of you army. The servo-arm alone only gives you a 5+ chance, but that can be readily upgraded with cheaper servitors who also act as ablative wounds.
Speaking of servitors, they are the cheapest way of getting plasma cannons into your army if you want that kind of thing. A handy bolster for a firebase, as you can get two cannons for only 60 points total. They still mindlock like the lobotomised little cretins they are, but if you have a Techie in there they’ll be fine and can still fire while he focusses on repair. Either that or you go for more of a firebase feel with a conversion beamer Master of the Forge. Remember, you don’t need a servo-arm to repair, just the Blessings of the Omnissiah rule! Also to bear in mind is the handy rule that the heavy weapons guys can still fire as normal if they personally stood still, allowing greater freedom for the repair guy to get into the gut of the nearby damaged vehicles, particularly if you’ve decked the unit out with additional servo-armed guys.
The other deployment option for them is to stick them in your front-line units and view them as squad upgrade guys more than anything else. They come into their own in transport vehicles to keep them going where they need to go. But once they are out of the vehicle, what do they do. Is there any point to getting them out with the rest of the unit? I think so, as they are still useful at a pinch. 2+ armour and a S8 AP1 attack are not to be discounted, especially as the combat rules can have you deflect damage to the Techmarine onto the other squad members, meaning he is far more likely to land the blows you want him to and helping make up for the lack of an invulnerable save. There is also the possibility of using him as a bit of a damage soak if you want to entrust his fate to a tonne of 2+ armour rolls. Probably not your best call in a bog standard tac squad, but could be useful for more specialised units, or when you want to keep that troops choice alive as long as you can. Personally, I feel that is you are going to go for a front line Techmarine, you are far better served by taking a deep breath and going for the full servo-harness. This gives far more than the 25 points bump should do, certainly when you compare it to some of the other tactical squad options. What’s the better deal: giving your Sergeant a power fist, or giving the Techmarine an extra attack with a better power fist, a flamer, a twin linked plasma pistol and a better chance to keep the transport running? I know which I’m rooting for.
A final point to bring up is the slight tweak they’ve received in the Force Org chart. Instead of consuming an entire Elites slot to themselves, they now take a phantom HQ slot, one per regular HQ choice. This gives you far better flexibility in your choices, as now he doesn’t have to content with the host of other, more combat-effective Elites options. I’ll also add that the Iron Hands expansion allows you to take two per regular HQ slot or three per Master of the Forge, really opening up your choices, and looking damn cool while they do it!