Wednesday, October 2, 2013
The Ultimate Space Marine Codex Review Part 4
Posted by Michael Ovsenik
This is the fourth (third 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.
Complimenting the new variety of units are several new pieces of wargear, including a half dozen Chapter Relics (more on those later) and the introduction of the new Graviton weapons.
Graviton weapons have a high AP, but are most uniquely distinguished by their Graviton rule; rather than rolling against a target’s toughness, they instead roll against a model’s Armor Save value. The higher a model’s armor save, the easier it is to wound, which pitches these weapons as an immediate threat to high toughness/high armor models, especially the Titans that seem to be increasingly popular in other publications.
All Graviton weapons also have the concussive rule, which means whatever they don’t kill outright will get knocked down and left vulnerable to a vicious assault. While most players might be tempted to stack Graviton fire in response to a large number of enemy MCs or high wound models, it might simply be easier to knock them off their feet and have their cheaper Marines do the clean up.
While their value against high toughness, multiple wound or high Save models can’t be denied, against all other types of infantry, Plasma is still king. Because their ability to wound depends on a model’s armor save, their value quickly diminishes against large mobs of lightly armored infantry. Plasma is at least able to wound these type of infantry fairly easily, as can be quickly turned on other targets to pretty large effect, making them a better option as a utility weapon if players aren't sure what they’ll be fighting.
Graviton weapons’ short range means it will generally be more difficult to find targets as well, as even the longest range drops down to a meager 12 inches on the move. Players will have to be particularly clever or daring to engage smart opponents effectively, leaving the risk of relying heavily on large numbers of these weapons in question. Still, I can see one or two included in a list to good effect, and player’s should definitely be willing to experiment.
The only other place where Graviton weapons may find a use are against vehicles. On a roll of a 6, any vehicle hit by a Graviton weapon immediately loses a hull point and suffers an immobilized result. Because cumulative immobilized results result in a further loss of hull points, a salvo of Graviton fire can wreck even heavily armored vehicles in as little as two hits. Still, it’s rare that Graviton weapons sport the volume of fire to make such strategies reasonable, and players might find it easier to revert to the more traditional Melta or CC approach.
Graviton weapons come in three different forms; the Grav Pistol, the Gravgun (which includes the Combi-Grav model) and the Grav-cannon. Grav Pistols and Gravguns are available to most units as Character or Special Weapons upgrades, while Grav-cannons are an exclusive option to the new Devastator Centurions. I couldn't help but chuckle to myself when I saw the Pistol variant; the thought of a Space Marine Sergeant laying low a Eldar Wraightknight with a single shot seems wonderfully ridiculous (if not downright infuriating).
Chapter Relics are exceptionally rare artifacts that can only be taken once, and even then only by your army’s most powerful Characters. Each has abilities that are as varied as they are unique, and give players a fun way to tool out obnoxious characters of their own making. My personal favorite so far is the Primarch’s Wrath, a master crafted bolter that boasts an absurd amount of firepower, and can alone turn a cheap HQ into an effective addition to a gun line.
Another powerful option is the Shield Eternal, a Storm Shield granting its bearer the Eternal Warrior rule, allowing players to craft their own personal version of Lysander to lead their army to battle. Other options include the standard Beatstick, a vicious Chainsword, and a Chapter Banner that buffs the units around it. I could go on and on about all the obscene possibilities I could put together with all the HQ options included in the book, but I almost feel like it would be more fun to let you guys figure them out for yourselves.
Perhaps the most powerful pieces of wargear is one that went almost completely unnoticed in the publication of the new Dark Angels Codex; the humble Auspex. This innocent looking piece of gear seems harmless enough, but might quickly become an automatic choice for Space Marines looking for an edge, and I predict may become a game changer in the months to come.
For a meager 5 points, any Marine with access to the Chapter’s Special Issue Wargear (generally the army’s HQs) can purchase the ability to reduce an enemy unit’s cover save by 1. This doesn't sound like much, but here’s the kicker; the Auspex doesn't have to roll to hit, doesn't count as targeting in terms of shooting weapons, but perhaps more importantly, doesn't wear off, meaning that multiple units can benefit from the ability in a single phase.
Space Marine players know that their firepower comes at a premium, and the ability to deny an opponent his best defense, his cover save, comes as a powerful asset to players who are looking to milk the lethality of every bullet that they fire. Entire squads can be ground to dust under a withering hale of focused Marine fire, crippling an army’s strength in true Space Marine fashion.
The Auspex’s short range can be easily overcome by the variety of delivery vehicles that Marine players possess, and can lead to devastating first turns, breaking an armies ability to fight before it even has a chance to get going. As a major proponent of focus-fire techniques myself, I cannot seriously see myself NOT taking one in every single list I write. Even players who don’t run a gun line have no excuse for not including one in their army, as there isn't a single marine boasting a fire arm that couldn't benefit from reducing a targets cover save.
This might very well be the one piece of equipment in the new Codex I’m willing to call out, but considering some of the utter bullshit that was released in the other publications (I’m looking at you, Black Mace), I think I can hold my tongue.