Sunday, January 1, 2012

Terminators: Utility

A Terminators armament is by no means modest; packed with enough bolter rounds to make a Tac Squad cry and blessed with the ability to take up to two heavy weapons (the kind that are normally mounted on tanks) they are certainly capable of laying down some hurt from afar. Armed also with a standard Powerfist Terminators certainly make formidable opponents in close combat as well, but it is easy for a player to misjudge just exactly how much damage they can do, and incorrectly apply that damage to an enemy line.

Bolter rounds are good yes, and paired in massed quantity with other heavy weapons they can definitely cause damage to targeted units--plenty times before have I dragged down a carni or two under a torrent of bolter and assault cannon fire--but they are only bolter rounds, and many times have I seen the disappointed look on a players face when he realized his hail of Stormbolter fire only managed to score a handful of wounds on his intended target. Indeed, Storm Bolters only appear about half as powerful as they ought to be, especially when wielded by an elite member of a chapter's First Company, but I challenge that anyone who ranks a Stormbolter on its raw firepower is failing to look at it in the right light.

Stormbolters are unique in that they can be always fired at full potential, and can always be done so against any target that is up to 2' away. This gives Terminators an ability to engage targets that might simply be out of range of the standard bolters on your regular marines. Units resistant to bolter fire might find themselves slowly whittled away under the steady barrage of fire laid down by an advancing unit of Terminators (who may even begin this barrage long before the targeted unit has the ability to fire back), and units vulnerable to it may quickly find themselves unable to escape, suffering salvo after punishing salvo as they recklessly try to fall outside of its range.

Whichever the case, it is not difficult for a unit of Terminators to engage at least part of the enemy line right away, which leads to the first major advantage in this section; no matter the situation, a unit of Terminators will always be able to engage at least something. Whether it be enemy infantry, a rampaging Carnifex or even the back of a poorly positioned tank, Terminators rarely ever run into the problem more specialized shooting units might share, which is to gain enough ground on the enemy to be able to engage them effectively.

As Terminators are also rather mobile as they do this, a player is also given a lot more control as to the response of his opponent; they don't necessarily have to endure the punishing counter attack that oft follows a broad side of a unit of double tapping Marines (especially if the broadside accomplished less than the desired effect), as one could simply leave his Terminators out of his target's range. Or, a player could charge into his target headlong, denying the possibility of a counter attack outright and attempting to finish in combat what he failed to do at range. Whatever the matter, Terminators give a player a degree of flexibility that is painfully lacking in other Space Marine troops, and a tactful player could score an easy victory as his witless opponent is outmaneuvered.

This flexibility extends itself to a Terminator's ability in close combat as well, although perhaps in less obvious ways than previously discussed. The aforementioned ork player was quick to point out that against a unit of ork boyz (as any ork player is quick to point out any unit's ineffectiveness against a unit of ork boyz) a squad of Terminators may quickly find itself swamped under a tide of attacks and unable to fight back with much effect. Though I would argue as to the exact nature of a Terminator's ability to resist such an onslaught, I will agree that the Terminators would definitely be lacking in their ability to end such a conflict quickly. Given a handful, a player may reasonably expect to kill maybe 3-4 boyz per round of combat, which may easily find them locked in combat for an entire game if additional backup weren't provided.

What the ork player failed to realize however is that those 3-4 wounds would have been applied regardless of the Terminator's opponent, and this is where their ability in combat really stands out. When a Terminator is in combat with other infantry, three things can usually be expected of it; it will hit on a 4+, it will wound on a 2+, and it'll ignore the enemies armor saves. They don't care if they're fighting a roving mob of boyz or a 900 point squad of Nob Bikers, a vulnerable Eldar Farseer or a formidable Tyranid Hive Tyrant; X number of Terminators will always score Y number of wounds.

It is in this sense that Terminators are very predictable in combat, and this I maintain is perhaps one of their most powerful assets. For as compared to a roving mob of boyz who may either obliterate a squad entirely or fail to score a single unsaved wound, Terminators can always be counted on to apply a certain amount of damage when it's needed. That, paired with their great durability, should always make Terminator's a player's first choice when faced with something that would normally be difficult to deal with.

Avatar on board? Throw Terminators at it. Trygon eating your tanks? Throw Terminators at it. Jetbike council giving you a headache? Throw Terminators at it. Hell, you could even give them a Stormshield to make them an even bigger pain in the ass. No matter how powerful the unit, there is no player alive that doesn't cringe at the thought of seeing it wrapped up in combat with Terminators. Even if he does manage to obliterate the unit entirely, it is unlikely that he will have done so without suffering some heavy casualties himself. Terminators are truly my counter to just about everything, and I have played many opponent's who have drastically under estimated their abilities in combat. Just ask the unit of 8 Incubi, who obliterated themselves against a unit of 5 Terminators. Or the Nid player, who smiled as my Terminators barely fought off the last 5 gaunts in a squad, only to watch in disbelief as the same unit went on to do the same thing to a unit of Hive Guard.

Oh, and they happen to be really good against vehicles too. Pretty much all Space Marines are dangerous to vehicles, but I figured I'd mention it in case it weren't obvious.

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