Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Codex: Astra Militarum - Superheavy units


Here is the last section of army units, the super heavies. These giants of the battlefield, monsters of Armoured warfare, are some of the most precious machines in the imperial guard. I have yet to have the pleasure of owning one of these war machines, but I would very much like to. But what has changed since the release of 8th? Quite a bit a it happens.

Steel Behemoth
Ill start by going over this rule as it applies to all the super heavies and doesn't need repeating for every entry. The new rules mean that super heavies never suffer a negative modifier for shooting heavy weapons when they move. This seems like a sensible update, as its practically a mobile fortress, moving a bit shouldn't upset a gunners aim much.

Baneblade
All of the super heavies got a points adjustment, either power points or standard point, in the case of the Baneblade its both, getting a drop on both accounts. The big change, which again is quite common, is that the main gun, the Banebade cannon, has gone from 2d6 to 3d6, mean that the number of shots now available to you goes from 2 to 12 to 3 to 18, and changes the average from 7 to 10. That's quite a change. The Baneblade stiff for fills its role as the basic all round super heavy, a role that it has played for quite a while. While others are better at specific things, such as titan killing or decimating hords, this excels at nothing but it capable of damaging pretty much everything.

Banehammer
The bane hammer, only drop matched play points, to the same as the Baneblade. The main cannon, the Tremor Cannon, has also gone from 2d6 to 3d6. Another good increase in shots and given the weapons special rule, means that it is even more certain to have an effect. The Banehammer itself is a transport, being able to carry a respectable 25 models and with the cannon reducing the enemy movement, this is good for slowing down fast enemy units that might cause you problems. It does however seem to be a bit of a situational tank and not one of the strongest units here. I would personally look towards some of the other tanks here, rather than take this one.

Banesword
The Banesword is one of the few super heavies that has increased in price, going up a power point. The main cannon, the Quake Cannon, also grew from d6 to 2d6. This doubles the number of shots that your likely to get each turn, which really is a massive increase in firepower for a relatively small price increase. However, while this is a very powerful vehicle with a powerful gun, with a guarantee of doing a decent amout of damage, thanks to its damage special rule, it seems to suffer from being very similar to another vehicle, namely the Shadowsword. While its likely you'll get more shots with this weapon, I still feel that the Shadowsword would be a better choice.

Doomhammer
The Doomhammer has also gone up in price, only on power points though, and as with most of the main weapons, the Magma Cannon has gained shots, going from d6 to 2d6. The main change for the weapon however is the loss of the Ignores Cover ability. This to me, meas that the vehicle has lost its niche within the Superheavies, as it now no longer has such a specialisation. It still has the ability to roll two dice and pick the highest when determining damage, which is always useful. Loosing ignores cover isn't going to make much of a difference in most cases, as you'd need a 2+ save in cover not to loose your save completely and most units don't have access to 2+ saves to start with. The vehicle is also a transport, carring 25 models, the same as the Banehammer and out of the two, this is the model that I would take, as I think that the main weapon is better of the two under most circumstances.

Hellhammer
The Hellhammer has dropped a power point in the codex and has also dropped several standard points as well, reducing its overall cost quite a bit. Again, the main cannon, the Hellhammer cannon, has gained d6 shots up to 3d6. This vehicle is a short ranged weapons platform, with both the demolisher cannon and Hellhammer cannon having very short ranges compared to other superheavies. The only advantage of this vehicle that I can see, is that it does retain the niche role of ignoring cover. That said, I still wouldn't take this vehicle. I feel that the advantages of the cannon are not enough for me to take it over some of the other variants, especially now that firing arcs no longer exist and the fact that the main weapon is turret mounted holds no advantage over some of the other versions with fixed hull weapons. I think you'd be better off taking the standard Baneblade.

Shadowsword
The infamous Shadowsword, the big hitter amongst big hitters, the titan killer. Now, this has received both a matched points drop and power points drop. The big news however is the changes to the main cannon, the giant Volcano Cannon, with it moving from d6 to 3d3. This fixes one of the biggest issues with the gun, actually hitting something. It means that at the very minimum your getting 3 attacks, meaning you should hit with at least 1, and unless your very unlucky, you'll kill what you hit. One average you'll get 6, hitting at least 3 times and wounding at least twice and with 2d6 damage each, you should do some serious damage, although you could end up doing just 4 damage, alternatively you could do 24 and effectively 1 shot a knight. Now I love the idea of this gun and its immense killing power, however, unless you regularly play against knights or superheavies, its overkill and one of the other options will be better. If you do face a lot of knights and such, there is very little with the hitting power of the Shadowsword out there.

Stormlord
Now, my personal favorite, the big dakka tank, the Stormlord. It has dropped a power point but otherwise remains unchanged, with the Vulcan Mega-bolter remaining at heavy 20. Its a shame that it lost the ability to fire twice if it stayed still, but that was always a bit overpowered. The Stormlord is you pinnacle anti-infantry superheavy, being able to do serious damage to just about any infantry unit, even terminators. The other advantage of this tank over many others is the fact that you have a fixed number of shots, therefore you always know exactly how many shots you have and can plan accordingly. Add to the fact that it has a massive transport capacity of 40 models and the option for 20 of them to fire at a time, you have a very mobile gun platform. Fill the back with heavy weapons and you can get an additional 10 weapons firing. If you took all heavy bolters you potentially could have 20 heavy bolters firing (for 60 shots), two heavy stubbers (for 6 more shots), 4 lascannons and the Mega-bolter, that's a lot of dakka . If I had both time and money, then I would have several Superheavies, mostly magnetised to swap out the weapons, but I would have a Stormlord fixed with 4 sponsons, two with bolters and two with flamers and it would be my go to tank for pretty much every occasion.

Stormsword
The Stormsword has gained a power point in the codex, and as with most of the old blast weapons, has gained a d6 for the Siege Cannon, putting it up to 2d6. This move to 2d6 has replaced the option for rolling 2 dice and picking the highest result when determining the number of shots the main weapon has. While the main weapon still retains the Ignores cover and the ability to reroll damage results of 1, it still seems like a poor choice in superheavies. Personally, I don't see what the advantage over the Hellhammer, which has a very similar gun, having the same range and profile but with a fixed damage stat, more shots. In theory there is the potential to do more damage with this weapon, with a total of 72 damage compared to only 54 with the Hellhammer, but in reality your more likely to get 12 to 15, plus the Hellhammer has a demolisher cannon as well. Granted if your pushed for points and want a superheavy, then its a good choice, but I would take the Hellhammer over this in pretty much every other case.

So, there it is the Superheavies, an relatively new addition to the Guard codex, but one most people will probably welcome. As with the likes of the Leman Russ's, there are many variants and most have there roles and niches. There are some stand out models, the original Baneblade for its versatility, and the Shadowsword for it titan killing power and the Stromlord for its transport and horde thinning abilities. There are also some models that don't stand out, such as the Banehammer and Stormsword, where other tanks can do similar things, usually better or at least as well but with more versatility. Having said that, there really isn't a bad tank in there. One day I hope that I would have a nice collection of these monsters, containing at least a Stormlord, Shadowsword and a Baneblade.

This also forms the end of the units in the codex. Next we will be moving on to look at the rest of the options in the codex, from warlord traits and orders to stratagems and doctrines. However, I think a quick break is in order to give everyone a bit of time off to relax and think about something else for a short while. So next up will be a bit about the clubs open day we had at the weekend.