Hey Folks, Jawaballs here!
I wanted to pop in and share some thoughts on Space Marine and Blood Angels armor and what may be the best choice for you.
All Space Marine players know that there are few options for tanks in their codex. The Imperial Guard, those lowly humans that Marines are tasked with protecting, have far superior tanks compared to what the Emperor has blessed our boys in power armor with. The Tau have a gun that can reach out and touch you in the nether regions… very very hard, and the Eldar have tanks that can move really fast, then do it again, while carrying enough fire power to mow down poor Marines by the squad.
This is not about xenos armor and the fume belching battle cannons that mere humans use. This post is about what Marines DO have and how individual tanks compare to each other. Primarily the Blood Angels (I hear they may be returning to us all soon).
We all know that when it comes to armor, the Land Raider is king. Perhaps for any race or codex. It’s many variants, it’s many weapon loadouts, it’s ability to carry hard hitting troops that can disembark and assault, its ability to rotate on the spot and magically gain several free inches of threat range… All these factors combine to make it the best Space Marine tank. But it comes with a whopping price tag! Also as a hidden drawback, selecting a Land Raider almost instantly dog-ears you as a guy who has to play Vulkan with assault terminators supported by a few speeders and whatever you can afford. It becomes a point sink focus for your army instead of a support choice which is what I think tanks should be.
This post is not really about the Land Raider. It is about the good ole Rhino chassis tanks. The Predator and Vindicator. I have been playing Blood Angels since the new PDF dropped. It came out in the Spring, and I painted my first Assault Marine that September. But, it took me the better part of one and a half years to actually put a Baal Predator on the table. Up to that point, I was stuck on the “Vindicator is God” mentality. It was not until last spring where I finally saw the light, and put three Baal Preds in my list.
I was two blinded by the apparent weakness of the Twin Linked Assault Cannon when it comes to tank busting. Tanks are for killing other tanks are they not? Why would I put a tank with an Assault Cannon on the table, when I can play a Vindicator or Lascannon Predator?
Allow me to share with you my thoughts.
Primary Role: Anti Tank
Secondary Role: Anti Infantry
Like all “Rhino” class tanks, it has 13/11/10 armor. The whirlwind with its 11/11/10 armor is not included in this discussion. Also, they all come standard with a Search Light. That is where the similarities end. The Vindicator is equipped with two guns. A Storm Bolter and a Demolisher Cannon.
The Demolisher Cannon. Arguably one of the best guns in the game in 4th ed. It was a large blast template, AP 1 (Right?), rolled two dice to determine penetrations, and had its very own damage chart. Those days are gone. Now it is AP 2, and uses the same damage chart as every other gun. But it retains its 2d6 take the highest ability.
Already a huge letdown from 4th ed, but still well worth its points. In 5th ed it gained the ability to minimize scatter with the Ballistic Skill reduction. Now you hit more often, but do less damage. It is still devastating to bunched together squads and enemy tanks alike. More on the DC in a few.
Vindicators share all the other options of the other “Rhino” class tanks. Hunter-liller missle, a storm bolter (Yes it can have two), and extra armor. Smoke is standard.
Why not pack my list with three of these? The DC is versatile! It can slaughter squads and tanks. You can erase entire squads of just about any thing in the game. But I have two words for you: Cover Save. In case you have not figured it out yet, 5th ed is not about the “Big Boom”. It is about “Torrent of Fire”.
I first realized this myself when I angled a Vindicator template over a horde of orks, catching 20 or so. That should have wiped out most of them instantly. Instead scatter, my cursed ability to roll 1s and his lucky 4+ cover saves allowed the horde to escape with only one death. I started realizing that just about every thing was going to get saves against the vindicator now. AP 1 or 2 don’t mean squat against troops any more. And thats the truth. So why bother with a DC when the lowliest grots can shrug it off just by wrapping themselves around a little piece of ruin? The scatter just makes it worse. Time and again I was playing my Vindicator and feeling robbed.
Finally, that feeling was enhanced by glancing. You don’t need to destroy a vindicator, just glance it. Suppress the big gun or take it off and it is just a 140 point Storm Bolter. (I take Extra Armor on all my tanks… a discussion for another time.) You put a Vindicator on the table and immediately any veteran player knows it has to die. They are still gunshy from 4th ed. My Vindicator was a liability.
I had to find an alternative. But I will summarize the pros and cons of the Vindicator first.
-Decent front armor 13
-Ability to have 2 Storm Bolters (Essentially giving it another wound allowing it to survive just a little bit longer and contest objectives.)
-Battlefield Control. Guys deploy away from your vindicator. Use it smart and you can force his deployment.
-Demolisher Cannon downgraded
-Weak side and back armor 11/10
-Reputation makes it a target
-Cover Saves negate DC usefullness
So I briefly tried a Lascannon Predator. I scoffed the Baal still, and figured the Predator Anhialator from the Generic Codex was one of my favs so why not!
Well, 180 points later I had one… er… cripes what a lot of points! Arent these things free in the generic codex? Jeez. Any way, a Lascannon Pred shortly appeared in my army. Sure, three Lascannons are sweet. But crap, I had to move to get an angle… now I can just shoot one. I could reach models across the table, but of course, they got cover saves. Lascannons are fairly good at popping tanks at Str 9, but there are a lot of guns that do it better. What about Anti Infantry? Fail.
The Lascannon Predator is instantly a fail. Way too many points go into getting some marginally effective anti tank weapons on the table that can be supressed by heavy bolters.
Primary Role: Tank Killer
Secondary Role: None
-TL Lascannon and two more on the sides. Good Anti tank. Great at sniping speeders and light armor tanks.
-Good front armor
-Good against monstrous creatures.
-For all the strength of a Lascannon, it only kills one model. That is only one lowly grot. Poor against infantry.
Still searching for an alternative, I happened into a Hobbytown and found a Baal Predator on the shelf. I figured what the hell. An hour later I was assembling and painting it. The following day, I played it in a game, and started to believe. Against popular opinion, I buy the Storm Bolter upgrade. That gives me 12 chances a turn to lay down the law. All but two of them deny saves to any thing not in power armor. My Baal Predator gunned down a couple squads of Eldar vs Fritz, and I was hooked. It easily out performed my Vindicator in racking up kills. While the Vindicator had the potential to drop da bomb, the Baal Pred was the sure thing – every turn. It got the job done. When it comes to killing troops, 12 guaranteed shots on a squad is superior to the chance to drop a template that may scatter giving you none.
I bought stock in them when I tested three of them against Fritz and his Seer Council. He was dancing around the table just out of reach, so he thought. I used their Over Charged Engines to move them each 6″, then layed down 36 shots on his Seer Council. I don’t care how many dice he gets to reroll… elves are gonna die! And die they did. Shortly after this I started winning tournaments.
I know earlier I said the Land Raider was king. Well, allow me to rephrase that. They are king EXCEPT for Baal Predators! First of all, a jacked out Baal Predator costs 150 points. That is a meager sum compared to the 180 points for a Las Pred and 285? for a Generic Land Raider Crusader. I know, the extra storm bolter costs more points to buy then it does on the other BA tanks, but so what, It is worth it. I will take Baal Preds over Land Raiders any day.
Here is a list of Baal Pros:
-Over Charged Engines allow the Baal to move as a Fast Vehicle. It can move 6″ and fire all of it’s guns, or move 12″ and fire its Assault Cannon and Storm Bolter.
-OCEs allow it to move 18″. That combined with it’s 13 front armor make it a battering ram. You are getting an easy S:10 ram attack just about all the time.
-OCEs also let it move 18″ and contest objectives, tank shock, or both. The only things faster are Eldar tanks.
-Ready for this? BP are TANK KILLERS! Yes folks. The Baal can kill tanks. Some time ago I had a mathhammer pro work out the chances for a TL Ass Cannon to kill a tank compared to a TL Lascannon. The stats are on my blog, but the short of it is that the AC is better at killing every armor value except 12 then the LC. Want to shoot your TL Las Cannon at a Land Raider? Forget it. Shoot a rhino. Let the Assault Cannon do the job instead.
-Baal Predators are death for infantry. I don’t care if you are in terminator armor, or no armor at all. Cover saves or not. Two Baal Predators with Heavy Bolters, Storm Bolter and AC will cause severe damage to any squad in the game. Add a third and you will probably kill them all.
-In a recent game, my base got assaulted by 5 Space Wolf terminators and two named characters in terminator armor. They slaughtered the squad they charged, but my two Baal Predators, a couple of bikes and some marines with pistols mowed them down, assuring me the win.
-OCEs allow the BP to get out of trouble. More Over Charged Engines pros? Sure! I always give my Baals extra armor. That means on a 1 or 2 they are shaken and can still get away. Next turn I move them a fast 18″ and get them out of trouble and behind cover so the following turn, they are right back at it! Once a Vindicator is glanced, it is pretty much done for the game.
-Tank Shock! OCE are sweet for Tank Shock. Combined with Extra Armor, and I have a 50/50 chance of surviving Death or Glory. Once the main guns are gone from Weapon Destroyed results, my Baals become Tank Shocking machines.
-Heavy Bolters. The bolter sponsons are fantastic. Guys always underestimate 36″ range and leave their speeders exposed. Heavy Bolters are sweet at swatting them down. Not to mention the range to whittle down squads that are barely holding onto objectives.
-Under Estimated! People who don’t know the burn, underestimate Baal Predators. “Those things can’t kill tanks!” That is usually followed by… “My Land Raider! ..and dead terminators…” *sob,sob*
Baal Predator Cons:
-It shares all the cons of other “Rhino” class tanks.
-Weak side armor.
-Short range. Assault Cannons are 24″ range.
-OCEs only works on a 4+ and stalls on a 1. I stall a lot with my uncanny ability to roll 1s. Such is life.
-More expensive then “Generic” predators. A generic Predator with an auto cannon, heavy bolters and storm bolter costs like 90 points and lays down only two less shots. Not too shabby.
Well there you have it. Is the Blood Angels Baal Predator the king of the vehicle hill? I have yet to be convinced otherwise. Their anti infantry dakka, tank killing pop, mobility, good front armor and price make them versatile and dangerous. Their survivability is high because their understated power leaves them low on enemy target priority charts and their OCEs allow them to move and lay down the law. Most guys are NOT prepared for it.
What could be better? I hear rumors of OCE on Land Raiders coming in the new dex… drool. Take what is best about a Baal Pred and mix it with a LR and you have a Fast Moving Land Raider Crusader. That is what it will take to get me to retire my Baal Preds. What do you all think?
Since I am writing this on BOLS I decided to broaden my opinion to cover generic marines for every one. If I were going to play tanks from the generic codex what would I take? I would probably only go with two.
Land Raider Crusader:
Instead of a third tank I would spend those points on melta bikes or troops to go inside the LRC. I have to say it, but if points were not an issue, the LRC is hands down the best tank in the game. It’s high point cost keeps it out of most lists, but to break it down, it works just like a fast and shooty Baal Pred when fire power is concerned. It can use machine spirit and move 6″ and fire all of it’s guns. If it has Storm Bolter and Multi Melta it can shoot 19 shots at enemies within 12″. 16 of them Twin Linked. Now that is a lot of Dakka. If I am right, I think it can move 12″, fire it’s assault cannon with Machine Spirit, and then fire all of it’s bolters!
~So there you have it. If I could have it my way, I would play Generic Marines and play 3 Land Raider Crusaders. Since that is unreasonable, if I was still hell bent on playing lots of tanks, I would play Blood Angels and play 3 Baal Predators. For the points, you get the most bang for the buck. What do you think?
If you like what I have to say, do check out my blog. I post my Blood Angels lists, tactics, pictures and thoughts. I also do a lot of battle reports and tutorial videos on youtube.
More to come…