Thursday, September 26, 2013
The Ultimate Space Marine Codex Review Part 3
Posted by Michael Ovsenik
This is the third (second is here) in a series of articles by Scott Prater, resident Space Marine love machine, on the new Space Marine codex. The editor has bedazzled Scott's article with sweet art from Lynxc on Deviantart.
The Stalker and the Hunter debut as the Space Marines primary anti-air units. While neither seem very adept at killing anything else, they’re relatively inexpensive to field, and their devastating array of weaponry can quickly become the bane of players who've grown over reliant on flyers.
The Stalkers Stormcannon Array seems particularly deadly to lighter flyers, as it’s high volume of fire can quickly shred them apart. Its ability to split fire can quickly multiply its value against large numbers of these craft, though the Stalker suffers a relatively large penalty to its ballistic skill value for doing so, taking out multiple flyers in a single turn can be game changing. One or even two Stalkers can be an effective counter against the increasingly popular Night Scythe lists, able to quickly shut down a Necron player’s primary means of mobility and leaving their units vulnerable to the superior Space Marine infantry.
For heavier flyers, Space Marine players may find the Hunter more than adequate, as it quite easily sports the single most powerful anti-air weapon introduced so far; the Skyspear Missile Launcher. With a high AP and Armorbane, anything it hits can expect to suffer a severe amount of damage, and even if it misses its shot, a player might find himself quickly forcing his flyers off the board. A miss with the Skyspear places a marker on the flyer that might allow the failed hit to come back and nail it in a later turn. The only way to remove it is to physically remove the flyer from the board; even killing the firing Hunter doesn't guarantee the flyers safety; so a savvy player can boast superior air control even without killing any enemy flyers.
Both vehicles sport a respectable AV, matching par with a Space Marine Dreadnought, and thus should be fairly resistant to a flyer’s return fire. A player need only be aware of an enemy’s ground units, but otherwise could expect either option to be a great counter to meta’s who’ve grown overly reliant on air support.
The last two units aren't necessarily “new,” but those of us who never picked up a copy of the Aeronautica supplement or couldn't find a copy of the White Dwarf, should find the Stormtalon and Stormraven welcome additions to the Codex.
Games Workshop has abandoned the fighter/bomber mechanic introduced in the other Codices, and have instead given the Marines a unique Light/Heavy Gunship option.
Introduced in a White Dwarf publication last fall, the Stormtalon quickly earned a fierce reputation as a competent dog fighter and close infantry support unit. While not being particularly durable, it can be equipped a large range of weaponry that can change its role from a flexible anti-infantry unit to a lethal tank hunter. It’s effectiveness against ground based targets is further increased by its Strafing Run rule, and its ability to flip between hover and flying modes means it can be kept on the battlefield for extended periods of time, amplifying its value in the late game where firepower generally tends to slack and proving a headache for opponents who weren’t careful to bring appropriate anti-air firepower.
Its most powerful asset may very well be its 360 degree mounted Assault Cannon. With it, players could flank enemy flyers and send deadly salvos of ammunition into their rear armor, turning them to scrap metal, commonly on the turn after they arrived. This unique ability quickly cemented the Stormtalon as the anti-flyer of choice in the 5th edition Codex, and it will no doubt see plenty more service moving forward.
The Stormraven needs no introduction; the Blood Angels and later Grey Knights Stormravens earned a begrudging respect as one of the best flyers in the game (if not, THE best), and the newly minted Space Marine version aims to do no different. Like the other two of its kind, the Space Marine Stormraven sports its own brand of “strike” missile, the Stormstrike, which boasts a high AP and the Concussive rule. This could make the new Stormraven formidable at hunting Monstrous Creatures, knocking them off their feet before unloading a deadly cargo of Assault Marines to finish the job. Of course, it remains efficiently deadly at pretty much everything else, with a wide range of weapons options to compliment whatever role a player might find fit.
It’ll be difficult not to see both new flyers frequently used in tandem. With the Stormraven’s massive transport capacity and the Stormtalon’s Escort rule, a player could have well over half of his army arrive from reserve in a single devastating turn. As awesome as this prospect sounds, however, most players may find one of the two more than adequate the suit their needs, and plenty easy to work into a functional army.
I suppose I should mention that Crusader Squads, as well as most of the Black Templars character units made it into the new Codex. These units are only available as options to Black Templars armies, however, and really haven’t changed much from their original versions. Their inclusion almost seems like an apology on Games Workshops part for killing the idea of another standalone Black Templars Codex, but players should quickly find the slight forgivable once they realize that have access to more options than before.