Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On the Vindicator

I had a request in to offer a review of the Vindicator. I think I should probably toss up some kind of e-mail address for the blog, in case someone wants to solicit my $0.02 on something. Thoughts on this?

The Vindicator at a glance
So, on to the big box with a gun. It's a regular tank off the Rhino chassis, which means you have AV13/11/10. You have a front hull-mounted gun, which means you have a 45-degree arc from the gun barrel. This gun is a BS4, S10, AP2 Large Blast weapon.

In other words, you're going to be driving directly at the enemy and closing the range. It means you are big and scary, and a priority target. Basically, you're buying a Demolisher cannon on wheels, and driving it at the enemy.

The Demolisher Cannon
This is what you're really buying when you get a Demolisher. S10, AP2 Ordnance sounds like serious business, but is it really all that it appears to be? I mean, AP2 means troops don't get armor saves, and S10 + Ordnance means you're a serious threat to armor, right?

Versus Infantry
If you can catch infantry in the open (especially tightly-packed, like they just got out of a transport or had it explode around them) you can annihilate them with a well-placed shot. Anything short of thunder hammer/storm shield terminators or Seer Councils are going to quake in their boots, and those two durable units don't much like the reduction in their saves.

However, cover is everywhere these days. Or, at least, it should be readily available if you play with the recommend amount of terrain on the board. With a 4+ cover save available, all a Demolisher Cannon really does to infantry is inflict instant death and force marines/terminators to take cover/invulnerable saves.

Versus Vehicles/MCs
Monstrous Creatures are probably just plain out a wound when a Demolisher cannon goes their way.

Vehicles, on the other hand...S10 ordnance can penetrate the heaviest armor; 2d6/highest gets through AV14 more often than not. However, you're not AP1, so you have a 1/3 chance of hurting the vehicle, 1/3 chance of killing it, and a 1/3 chance of...not doing much at all. On the other hand, if you're firing it at a higher value target, well...it's something, at least.

The Chassis
AV13/11/10 is moderately durable, provided you're shooting at it from the front. The problem is that the Demolisher Cannon has a 24" range, so you're going to have to run into midfield to use the thing.

This range means three things for the chassis:
1) If the enemy brought melta (and they should), you're driving into its range.
2) Remember those AV11 flanks? You're going to have to watch them. The other guy (or gal) certainly will.
3) You are also going to wander close to enemy assaulters, provided they are alive.

You are also a 'normal' vehicle in terms of speed, so you will have to move 12" and pop smoke on turn one, and other turns are either a 12" move, or a 6" move + big bada-boom. Those are your two speeds. You want to consider the move moreso when the enemy might be able to assault you. AV10 on the rear means S4 troops can punch you, and frag/krak grenades are also a worry. At least get the 6" move to open up the range and force 4+ to hit rolls on assaulters.

The Vindicator's Impact on Field
As I mentioned in shooting, your gun is more effective on paper than in experience. It is decent enough for maiming up infantry (and choice targets include multi-wound stuff like Nobs, Crisis Suits, and Broadsides, for example). It can threaten any vehicle in the game. However, it still gives people cover (and in some cases, wounding basic infantry on a 2+ and forcing a cover save means you are no more spectacularly effective then, say, a multi-laser or heavy bolter against low-save troops) and it is not an AP1 weapon against vehicles.

However, the Demolisher cannon IS a big gun, and it IS versatile. You only need to fire it once and have it do something epic for the opponent to worry about it. Most people will at least percieve the Demolisher Cannon as a solid threat, and if they underestimate it, well...yeah. Beat up a Land Raider with it or otherwise maim up an expensive unit (IE: Terminators with the standard 5+ invulnerable).

Additionally, the enemy is unlikely to keep targeting the Vindicator if they knock the gun off, or if they immobilize it when it is mostly out of range. If you have a neutered Vindicator, you can still use the chassis as mobile terrain and tank-shock fodder. If you have an immobilized Vindicator, there is little you can do but keep a watch for anything that wanders into range.

Kitting out the Vindicator
For regular space marines, go ahead and pay 10pts for the Siege Shield. For Chaos Marines, take the Dozer Blade, even if you can't use it when going more than 6". Why? Your gun is short-ranged. You want to be able to take the most direct path to the enemy, and not get immobilized in terrain. Furthermore, if you get immobilized early on, you're not that useful.

All other options are secondary. A second storm bolter, hunter-killer missile, or havoc launcher (for the chaos boys) will not actually make you that much more lethal. They give you an extra gun to plink with if your Demolisher cannon goes away.

This includes Extra Armor. Since it costs 15 points (...unless you're Black Templar and it's 5) and is only used 1/6 of the time for damage results (regardless of whether it's a penetrating or glancing hit), you can safely leave it at home.

The Black Templars and the Vindicator
The good ol' BT have a few different options that help make their Vindicator more dangerous than the stock version. BT smoke launchers are the old 'may only glance' as opposed to 'I have a 4+ cover save.' Not bad. Worse, though, is the Power of the Machine Spirit. PotMS can move the vehicle 6" straight ahead and fire a single weapon at BS2, even if the vehicle is shaken or stunned.

So, the BT Vindicator costs 163, but ignores shaken/stunned results, has superior smoke launchers, and the dozer blade. You get what you pay for, but you're still in trouble if they KO your gun. On the other hand, you are in a prime position to start cranking shots out on turn 2. Move up 12" turn one, pop smoke, laugh at glances, move 6" next turn, shoot. 42" of gun range over two turns, and hard to stop.

DA/BA Vindicators have access to the old-school smoke, but not the Power of the Machine Spirit.

Thanks to Dverning for pointing this out.
The Vindicator in your army
I have two basic directives for you when building an army list with Vindicators.

1) If you want to actually shoot the Demolisher cannon, bring THREE Vindicators. The thing is a huge fire magnet because of psychology. One will get nuked out of hand. Two might get a shot off between them. Three? Now we're cooking with high explosives.

2) Since you are throwing S10 AP2 Large Pie out, don't bring assault troops. No one wants to be in front of a Demolisher cannon. Your own troops are included. Friendly fire, isn't.

Rough Sample Army Lists
Disclaimer: it's been a bit since I've built up lists for marines. These are not necessarily optimized, and are intended to get you started. Feedback on them (and indeed any part of the article) is welcome.

Space Marines
Librarian [105]
-Null Zone, other power to taste

Elites
Dreadnought w/ 2x TL Autocannon [125]
Dreadnought w/ 2x TL Autocannon [125]
Dreadnought w/ 2x TL Autocannon [125]

Troops
5 Tactical Marines; Combi-flamer on Sarge [100]
Razorback w/ Lascannon, TL Plasma [75]

5 Tactical Marines; Combi-flamer on Sarge [100]
Razorback w/ Lascannon, TL Plasma [75]

5 Tactical Marines; Combi-flamer on Sarge [100]
Razorback w/ Lascannon, TL Plasma [75]

10 Tactical Marines, Flamer, Multi-melta [170]
Rhino [35]

10 Tactical Marines, Flamer, Multi-melta [170]
Rhino [35]


Fast Attack
Land Speeder w/ Typhoon Missile Launchers [90]

Land Speeder w/ Typhoon Missile Launchers [90]

Heavy Support
Vindicator w/ Siege Shield [125]
Vindicator w/ Siege Shield [125]
Vindicator w/ Siege Shield [125]

Total: 1970/2000

Rationale: Call me a little influenced by Stelek as of late, but I'm feeling a little shooty today. Vindicators lead the charge. Rhinos can bookend the charge, just to force the enemy to shoot AV13 front armor. Tacticals in the Rhinos can play cleanup or multi-melta bunker out the fire point. Dreadnoughts and Land Speeders provided a good hail of fire against infantry, monstrous creatures, and light/medium armor. The librarian rides up in one of the Razorbacks and provides psychic support. Should you meet an enemy with invulnerable saves, you feed that enemy Null Zone and as much AP2 fire as you can. You then may watch the enemy cry. (hopefully). Razorbacks serve as your backfield claiming units, and the units within can clean up infantry stragglers.

You have 30pts of spares; 35 if you drop the melta-bombs. You can pull a combi-flamer to free up 45 points, and give your Vindicators extra armor and make them that much more frightening.

Chaos Space Marines
HQ
Chaos Sorcerer w/ Mark of Slaanesh, Lash of Submission [125]
Chaos Sorcerer w/ Mark of Slaanesh, Lash of Submission [125]

Elites
4 Chaos Terminators [155]
-Chainfist/Heavy Flamer
-3 Combi-weapon

4 Chaos Terminators [155]
-Chainfist/Heavy Flamer
-3 Combi-weapon

Troops
7 Plague Marines [226]
-Powerfist on Champ
-2x Meltagun
-Personal Icon
Rhino [35]

6 Plague Marines [203]
-Powerfist on Champ
-2x Meltagun
-Personal Icon
Rhino [35]

5 Plague Marines w/ 2 Meltaguns, Personal Icon [140]
Rhino [35]

5 Plague Marines w/ 2 Meltaguns, Personal Icon [140]
Rhino [35]

10 Chaos Space Marines [215]
-Champ w/ Fist
-Flamer
-Autocannon
-Icon of Chaos Glory

Heavy Support
Vindicator [125]
Vindicator [125]
Vindicator [125]

Total: 1999/2000

This one is much rougher, since I have even less experience with the chaos marine codex. The biggest problem you'll face is that CSM get all their long-range firepower in the Heavy Support section, and you're spending it on Vindicators. The Lash Sorcerer is a natural fit for the big AP2 template of happiness; if you can pull it off you can get everyone to hug outside of cover and play the game of 'how many templates does it take to make you go away?'

Past that, we have some expendable melta, we have some transports, we have a home-base scoring squad, and we have mobile reserves in the termiantors. The combi-weapons are up for debate; melta need more careful placement whereas plasma are more tolerant of placement and have a better rate of fire. If only Dreadnoughts couldn't go crazy and pump shots into your rear, I'd try to set them up as heavy support and go for the TL autocannon + missile launcher setup. They can't, though, so I'm leery of kiling my Vindicators for you.

The other thought that strikes me for the Chaos list is dropping the babysitter squad, adding a couple PM back to the big non-sacrifical squads, and then going for a few squads of summoned daemons. Why? In the rear, they're cheap objective holders. In the front, they can be cleanup units, but again run the risk of getting Vindicator'ed. Still, it's what Chaos has.

The biggest problem becomes obvious when you compare this to the Marine codex version: the marines can still bring solid long-range firepower, whereas Chaos' heavy support section is a cut-throat competition for killyness, and about the only place in the army you can get real firepower over 24 inches.

Comments and feedback welcome. I'm like as not to edit this, since I wanted to finish it before racking out for work + exam tomorrow.

8 comments:

suneokun said...

The vindicator is a little like the poor mans demolisher. Its a lot cheaper, but the combination of a fixed gun and poor side armour mean that its easily circumvented... combine that with a poor range of 24" and their bark bigger than their bite.

The demolisher has both true move and fire potential, combined with the rear armour 11, which gives you some security at close range. Throw in a few cheap heavy flamers and you've got a devastating tank that no-one wants to get near with almost the best armour in the game.

Put some bodies around it to stave off the meltaguns and its a lynchpin to hang your army off.

The Demolisher isn't. That said I've seen them shrug off silly amount of firepower - but I've also seen a bunch of killa kans do the same...

Raptor1313 said...

Honestly, I'm kind of with you on that.

The Predator gets away with the 13/11/10 because it's got its butt on the back board edge (or close to it) and the enemy will have to do some real work to get AV11 shots on it.

The Vindicator's flanks and AV10 don't serve it as it advances, but you can cover the flanks (ish) with other vehicles, and frankly the AV10 rear isn't quiite as bad as it sounds because most anything that can assault you is something you can shoot, first. Thus, with 2-3 Vindis, you can feed them a lot of pie. S10 insta-kills Thunderwolf Cav, and they're the ones I'd worry about, what with the S10 hammer on Sarge. Fiends of Slaanesh, though, have the attacks needed to beat you up and are immune to instant death, but you're not exactly advancing on them most of the time.

Anyway, though, that's why I'm a fan of the Space Marine list rather than the Chaos list. In the SM list, they're a strong component, but you still have long-range shooting with the rest of the army. With the Chaos list, though...not so much.

Mercer said...

Nice article Raptor. Mind if I link this article on http://imperiusdominatus.blogspot.com ?

Dverning said...

Yes, I think you should post an e-mail link. I've had mine up for a while and though it's only generated a couple questions, that's still a couple more than I might otherwise have gotten.

As to the Vindicator? I think your analysis is exactly right... it's more threat than effect. I love when opponents take them as that means they didn't spend their points on something more effective, such as Predators.

There is ONE place I think Vindies still work though: Black Templars. Why? Because their Vindies still have access to Power of the Machine Spirit. So it ignores those Crew Shaken and Crew Stunned results. (There's also the old Smoke Launchers too.) This makes the vehicle impossible to "Shake & Forget" so you can concentrate on their Land Raiders or Rhinos.

Raptor1313 said...

@Mercer
Not at all. My policy towards linking to my stuff is so long as my name's still on it, it's fine. A little ego boost never hurts... ;)

@Dverning
I think I'll look into the e-mail. Even if it doesn't get a lot of hits, it's a fine source of inspiration.

You are correct on the Bt one, though. PotMS in the old-school style (combined with the fact you don't mind so much about BS2...) makes them more dangerous.

Still, they just don't do a ton of DAMAGE, espite the Big Fun Gun they have.

GWvsJohn said...

Excellent write-up. I love the "realistic" viewpoint you bring as opposed to WAAC spammers we may know :)

Any thoughts on Siegewing lists? (ie DA termies + vindies + dreads only)

micah said...

I just take 1 tac squad, break it into combat squads, and put one on each flank. Insta assault prevention/ 4+ cover save for those AV 11 sides.

Dverning said...

I just take 1 tac squad
A glib response, but how does that block 50% of the facing? 5 Marines might occasionally block enough LOS, but not that often. (And no, Shooting through the squad does not matter as vehicles ignore that rule.)