Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Vehicles and Transports in 6th Edition

I mentioned last week in my I’m back article how I thought that people had overreacted and that vehicles and transports still had a place in armies in 6th. Well I’m about to share with you my reasoning! Prepare to be amazed! (Or not, I won’t be offendedJ).

Some of this is basic but stick with me as I feel it’s needed to illustrate my later points. Let’s first discuss what really changed in 6th for vehicles:

-Hull points were added. Basically wounds for vehicles.
-The Damage chart changed, reducing “instant deathing” vehicles to a 16.5% chance on most weapons
-Cover saves became easier to get at 25% of the model.
-Cover saves became slightly worse at 5+ instead of 4+
-Vehicles got faster with the addition of Flat-out in the shooting phase (running for vehicles)
-Vehicle effects now affect the transported squad the next turn.
-Moving no more than 6” in the movement phase to deploy troops
-Snap Firing weapons
-Always hit on a 3+ in CC as long as you move
-Can’t assault out of a non-assault vehicle, even if it was stationary.
-And finally, no longer being able to control/contest objectives and onboard units need to disembark to deny/control as well.

I think that handles the majority of the changes and it’s actually a pretty big list. I don’t think another aspect of the game changed as much as vehicles did. Just glancing at it seems that vehicles took a decent hit from their 5th edition counterparts. Why?

Well troops no longer being able to contest from inside their boxes means that those minimum sized squads will have to get out more often. The limited moving and deploying hurt armies that enjoy an alpha strike (though only by 2”-3” once you actually look at it). Vehicles are easier to punch out in CC and hull points allow them to be worn down by enough firepower. Add in that you can’t assault out of a stationary box and looks like a whole lot of bad.

You guys know that the majority of 5th edition for me was primarily infantry armies. I don’t think I’ve had a vehicle in my army at a large GT event in over 2 years. I was a proponent that all infantry lists could work (and did rather well for me) but in 6th I find myself shifting to more vehicles.

“Why?” I can hear you ask. “You just ran off a list of reasons vehicles got worse in 6th!”

Part of it is because the rest of the internet and a fair few of the national metas have shifted away from vehicles. I’m not gonna lie. I enjoy doing things a bit differently. Oh, and I finally got an airbrush and don’t suck at painting tanks J

That’s the short answer. Here is the long answer:

In 5th edition the missile launcher (or its xenos equivalent) was king of the ranged firepower vs. vehicles. It had solid penetration values and could wreck a vehicle 33% of the time when it did penetrate. Cover saves were harder for vehicles to come by in 5th and so you wound up with more pens and glances and more chance of pulling down a damage result. And its weapon almost every army had, or could take, in abundance in 5th (Excluding Tau & Eldar). The Melta did a similar job up close but even better.

In 6th edition the initial panic over being able to glance vehicles to death and not shoot out of a vehicle that had been stunned/shaken led to an almost overnight shift away from MSU.  With that shift away from MSU people were looking for ways to increase their firepower and so multiple shot medium strength weapons came back in a big way (st.5-7). It didn’t hurt that the common missile launcher got significantly worse short term at dropping tanks. They were already relatively popular on vehicles themselves but more started cropping up in foot lists. Autocannons, Scatterlasers, Assault Cannons, Heavy Bolters, Plasma Guns, Plasma Cannons, and the list goes on.

So why are tanks and transports still something to include in an army?  There are a couple of reasons.

Because it still takes 9 BS4 St7 shots to glance to death an armor 11 vehicle out of cover (with a 32% chance at exploding it). And 15 if it has cover, which isn’t too hard to come by in 6th. That’s a significant amount of firepower to destroy a 35pt Rhino. Missile Launchers have it a little better but due to cost per shot ratios aren’t nearly as effective, especially as they rise in price in new codexes. Strength 6 weapons sit at 15 shots per vehicles and again worse if they have cover. Basically vehicles can draw a fairly sizable amount of good anti-infantry shots onto themselves, saving a higher number of infantry the lower the strength and higher the number of shots go.

I had a lot of math showing the difference between hull points and destroying vehicles in 5th but basically attrition is the weapon of choice in 6th.

Additionally people aren’t prepared anymore to face 8-12 properly supported armored vehicles anymore.  When was the last time you looked at an army and enough firepower to eliminate 3+ rhinos on the first turn? I’m not talking about getting lucky with just three units. I’m talking about something that could consistently do this. I’ve had two games in the last 4 months where this was the case. Add in that Plasma guns are consistently replacing melta outside of a single suicide unit for landraiders and lascannons still haven’t popped up to heavily (though I expect that to change over the next few month).

Bear in mind it’s not just having vehicles that’s a good thing. It’s having vehicles that have a purpose. Fire support vehicles like GK Psybacks are still a solid investment as they can double as mediocre anti-air. Heavy support vehicles such as certain types of IG tanks (non-ordinance) and artillery or similar units in other armies. And finally transports. Yep, I said transports.

Transports still eliminate all St4 or less shooting that might hurt your infantry. Transports still allow you to forward deploy 12” on turn 1. Transports still offer protection until late game snatches of objectives are needed. Transports still clog firing lanes and available enemy movement. Transports in this edition can provide their own version of jump/shoot/jump as they can start in front of a unit (limiting incoming fire), move out of the way in the movement phase 6” and then move back in front in the shooting phase after the unit has fired.

Are there some armies out there that the changes to vehicles bone? Yep, Eldar and Tau come rapidly to mind. Why? Because their transports are costed far too high but that’s another discussion.

I think that people are going to have to start looking at vehicles as an option again. I feel that between the changes to the dragon as well as items like the Black Mace and Banner of Devastation players are going to start feeling the squeeze on their mainstay units. There are only so many bodies you can get on the table before you start to lose viability. Adding transports may cut the total number of boots (which I still recommend keeping high) but it’ll keep more alive over the course of the game.

So what’s the conclusion? Pretty much what I started with last week. Vehicles have changed. They are no longer a place to hide inside to score or assault out of. They are a piece of your army that needs a place in your plan. Basically vehicles now support the army instead of being the army. I find this to be a good thing but I think quite a few people are missing out on dumping all those lovely transports they used in 5th edition.

What do you guys think? Are transports and vehicles (outside of flyers) truly dead? Has the community had a knee-jerk reaction? What future do you see for transports and vehicles?