Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thoughts on vehicles in 6th Edition 40k

The latest edition has been out a few weeks now and I've had a chance to play a half dozen games and wanted to share a few observations on one aspect of the new meta in particular - vehicles.

In 6th Ed, vehicles were pretty much king. Marine armies were often built around Land Raiders and Rhinos, Orks raced across the field in Truks and Wagons, Tau were nothing without a few Hammerheads, and so on and so on. Lets not even get started on Imperial Guard lists....

The conventional wisdom is that all this was likely to change in 6th though. The fact that glancing hits can now remove a tank in as few as three shots should make your Razorbacks and Falcons much more vulnerable, greatly reducing their lifespan. Not being able to camp in a vehicle on top of objectives also reduces the utility of these mobile boxes. But is that how the new game is playing out?

In my last six games I have played with Eldar, Space Wolves, and a mix of Space Wolves and Blood Angels. I have beaten Grey Knights (tabled them twice), a mix of Marines and Dark Eldar, Blood Angels (tabled again) and pure Eldar. Yeah, so far, I'm unbeaten in 6th Ed :) But the point I actually want to make is I've seen a fair variety of vehicles and infantry at play.

My initial verdict: vehicles are by no means done with and are still extremely valuable additions to most armies.

Take my Space Wolves list. I have a fairly aggressive and competitive list. It involves a couple of units of Long Fangs, three Lazerbacks, a las-Pred, and usually a las/missile launcher Dread'. In the three or four games I have fielded them, I have not lost more than two vehicles in the entire game. In fact, I have only ever lost two on one occasion.

Even in last night's semi-Apocalypse game of 4000 points a side, I only lost one Razorback. The other two were on one Hull Point each, true. But my side still also had two las-Preds and a Vindicator untouched by enemy fire.

My Space Wolf tanks aren't even in cover!

So far, it seems, the same principles of the 5th meta hold true for 6th. That is to say, multiple redundancies and correct threat projection will mean your enemy won't be able to target and destroy enough of your vehicles fast enough to stop you doing what you want to with them. How does this work?

1. Multiple Targets.

First, if my army has 11 missile launchers and 7 las-cannons, several being twin-linked, many of which are in cover or obscured, but all of which are pointed at you, as well as tactical marines with meltas and plasma guns running towards you, how do you choose which to shoot first? Unless you also have lots of high powered weapons, or at least weapons powerful enough to Glance from range, its  a difficult process.

2. Cover Saves

Eventually you will prioritise a target though. First you have to roll to hit. you might miss or scatter. Then you have to roll to wound or penetrate. Then I get to make cover saves/invulnerables etc. I'm not saying you can't or I won't make any of these rolls. The point is there are lots of rolls to make to do some damage. And I'm not even using a Aegis or Skyshield yet...

3. Hull Points Aren't As Easy To Take As It Seems, Or Multiple Targets Part 2

So all hits now take hull points from vehicles. But the most common ones come with three. So my semi-mech Space Wolves have a total twelve hull points between them. Even for Necrons, who I hear can take out a tank a turn, will need a few turns of good shooting to eliminate all of them. By which time I will probably have done what I needed to do with them.

That last sentence is key to understanding vehicles, and infantry for that matter, in 6th. As much as your opponent needs to be clear on which targets they can and should attempt to take out first, you need to know what you are going to do with yours because you must assume they will get destroyed eventually.

But what about fliers?

The Eldar list I have been playing in 6th only includes three vehicles. Thats a single Wave Serpent and two fliers. In the hardest game I have played in 6th to date, I lost both the fliers and the Serpent to Orks. That said, I did misuse my Phoenix Bomber horribly, wasting its shots on an Ork Battlewagon, instead of taking out the 15 Looters that then proceeded to shoot it out of the sky. But hey ho, it was the first time I used it and I was a little panicked by the fact my opponent had two Baneblades-as-Wagons racing across a 4x4 table at my squishy Troops. A bit of an aberration then.

Against Grey Knights, the same Eldar obliterated 1750 points in four turns for the loss of two, yes two, Wraithguard...

But, for all that, flyers haven't really percolated down into the meta around here that deeply.

I shot down my Grey Knight opponent's solitary Stormraven with a lucky snapshot from a missile launcher before my Nightwing even got on the board. Last night my Dark Eldar opponent's Voidraven bomber scattered a Mine almost entirely off the board, then took a penetrating hit that removed a lance, and then failed to hit with its remaining gun in the last turn. Still, the strategy of shooting jets like that with las-cannons still seems, to me, the best alternative to a Skyfire weapon.

Until quad-cannons and Icarus lasers and flakk missiles become commonplace its probably too early to tell how deadly flyers will be in the long run. I suspect they will become fairly key in armies designed around them and taking out the aforementioned AA guns will be a high priority for controlling players though.

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