Hey all, Jawaballs here!
Some time ago I wrote an article comparing Space Marine tanks with a biased emphasis on Baal Predators. Well, this time I want to write about just two, The Predator and The Vindicator.
Why would this tank get a unique mention as a Blood Angels tank? What about the Baal? I will discuss the Baal in a separate article since it is different enough to warrant it’s own post. On with the Predator! The autocannon turret with lascannon sponsons. This tank has come into it’s own with the new Blood Angels codex. There is one overwhelming good reason why it has become in my opinion an overnight must have. Fast Vehicle. More so than any other tank, except maybe the Vindicator, does Fast Vehicle make a huge difference. Being fast it has the ability to move 6″ and still fire all of it’s weapons. That means that every turn you can move your predator to get angles to react to your opponent’s moving. What an advantage! In a recent game, I had two of these babies vs two Ultramarine tanks. We were on our table edges shooting across the table. However, he was married to his edge, and if he moved was only able to shoot one gun. I was able to move around and adjust my tanks to take advantage of cover while laying down a massive amount of shots. Needless to say, I won the engagement.
Lets talk stats. There is little to mention other than price. The Blood Angels version is 135 points. I don’t know off hand what the Codex version costs. Other than that it has front armor 13, side armor 11, back 10, and three main guns. An autocannon that is Strength 7, ap 4 heavy 2 and, two Lascannons.
What is golden here is the 48″ range with precise firepower. Obviously lascannons are good vs tanks, but what most people don’t register is that these Predator tanks are great for anti infantry! Sure most things will get cover saves, but you can still reach out and touch them! Your opponent has some pesky Broadside suits hiding in terrain in the back of the board behind lots of Devilfish? All you need to do is move 6″ so you can see a sliver of their shoulder, and whamo, here is four shots sucka! Not just four shots, but 4 shots that will wound them on 2. Or better yet, maybe you put a hurting on a 10 man squad but one survives and runs away. He thinks he is safe since most of his force is between you and the lone survivor… Thanks for the kill point kid! Here is a couple lascannons for ya. I will come back to the precise fire power thing in a second.
Naturally, as your tank takes weapon destroyed results, you are going to lose Las sponsons. But taking them off does little to reduce the power of your predator! Most players will simply dismiss the tank as toothless with just an Auto Cannon turret. That will change once you go into search and destroy mode! Now you can move your predator 12″ and still fire the auto cannon across the table. This will open up massive potential for side shots as you scoot around terrain and catch transports on the other side of the table going for objectives late in the game.
And of course, there always remains the threat of the Fast Vehicle AV 13 missile. “Today is a good day to die!” Cue Klingon battle theme… The Predator tank is the best rammer in the game being skinny enough to fit through narrow spaces and stop in tight spots, (it is a couple inches skinnier than a Falcon) and fast enough to move 18″. It will easily get a strength 10 shot on a ram.
Fast vehicle was no less kind to the Vindicator. However, I feel that it has less impact on it’s effectiveness than on the predators. We all know the value of the Vindi. I covered it in depth before. The Strength 10 ap2 blast template is known and feared by all races. What Fast Vehicle brings to the table is the ability to move 12″ and still fire it off! Now you have a Vindi zooming up the flanks and lobbing that shell into the midst of the action, instead of being stuck in with the boys. Plus being able to move 12″ every turn means that your opponent will always need a 6 to assault it. This is a huge advantage, since previously the slow moving Vindi was suspect to being assaulted. Ork biker nobs knew that all they needed was an unlucky scatter, then they would be all over that Vindicator tearing it apart. The fast Vindi means that those Nobs are going to have a lot more difficult time reaching them, and then hitting them. Face lots of Space Wolves cavalry? Three Vindicators will have something to say about them too! Add to this the above AV 13 missile rammer stuff.
I pointed out the advantages, and touched on some differences. But the biggest difference, and the reason why I take Predators over Vindis is the scatter die. I will gladly take 4 precise weaker shots over 1 super scary shot that scatters any day. In countless games, when I have needed that Vindi shell to land, it has always missed. The predator is simply more reliable in my opinion. The Vindi is great at throwing down a bunch of wounds on a squad, but with scatter, I think the number of wounds caused would be actually a lot lower than we would think. The range of the Vindi is another issue. Fast is great at increasing that range, but the Vindi is often victim to enemy speeders, while the Predator can swat them from across the table.
Enter the next great use for the Predator! Fly Swatter. The only way to kill Eldar tanks and fast moving Marine Speeders before they close with you and lay down the pain is to put torrent of fire down field and roll lots of dice. The Predator excels at this! Speeders are almost impossible to hide, and with 4 shots coming from four feet away, all you need is his dice to do their thing and make 50% of the cover saves and you still get two shots through that will easily penetrate AV 10 and hurt AV 12. That covers killing just about every other tank too. The Vindi shell is powerful, but it is just one shot, and again that scatters! Even a scatter of 2″ is enough to get the blast hole off the top of the tank reducing the blast to a single shot heavy bolter. And again, it is just one shot.
Blood Angels Dozer Blades:
The dozer blade in the new codex, like it’s PDF predecessor allows you to reroll failed terrain tests. But the difference is that in the old PDF, you could only benefit from the Dozer Blade if the vehicle moved 6″ or less. Now you can use it no matter how far you move! Thank you GW.
This is an upgrade only available to the Vindicator. A dozer blade that costs 5 more points, but allows you to completely ignore terrain without rolling. As a battle goes on, the battle field becomes littered with blasted tanks creating Dangerous terrain. The Siege Shield is a nice little boon in these instances.
I used to feel it was a must have. With a small number of tanks on the table, I needed every one of them moving every turn. EA allows you to treat Stunned as Shaken, and still move when otherwise you would be unable to. I have to say that with the newer mech BA armies sporting a dozen tanks, EA is less important, since it has been replaced with spam! With so many tanks on the table, you are pretty much guaranteed that at least a few will be able to move when you need them to. Save the points.
BA tanks do not come standard with these. They cost 1 point. They allow a tank to “illuminate” an enemy tank for all of the other tanks in night fighting. That way all of the tanks way in the rear can now fire upon enemies that would normally be out of reach! The drawback? Now any enemy tanks can fire on the tank with the spot light as if they ignored Night Fight. I have not come into an instance where I have missed standard search lights.
Hunter Killer Missile:
One of the emerging gems of 5th edition? Pretty much unlimited range, Strength 8 ap3 single shot. While using them is nothing new, and I have been known to field them on my PDF Over Charged Engine Baal Preds and Rhinos giving them an extra blast when they needed it. Predators and Vindicators can take them, though I don’t know if a Vindi can move and shoot both the missile and the demolisher. But so can all of the other BA tanks. Spend 100 points and put an HK on all of your tanks, hold them in reserve, then roll onto the table 6″ and blast away! You can move on 6″ and fire all your guns. One HK is a waste, ten HKs is a cheap way to put a LOT of shots down field and ensure some good old fashioned destruction before your tanks get popped. It makes Razorbacks with AssCans and Vindicators more of a threat since they can move on and still reach some thing across the table, and it gives the Predator one more shot to spend on enemy Valkries and Manticore/medusa etc.
Which tank is better? That of course depends on your taste and regular opponents. 40k is a game of paper, rock and scissors, (with the occasional stick of dynamite thrown in). If you frequently go up against horde armies with no tanks, the Vindicator trumps the Predator. Against heavy mech armies with squishy troops, the Predator stands tall! Know your region, know your opponents and know the trends and you can pack the right tool for the job.
How do you feel about the Space Marine work horses with the Blood Angels twist? For more Blood Angels unit evaluations, check out my Blood Angels Blog! My next few Bell of Lost Souls articles will be a series of hobby posts. More to come!