Monday, July 31, 2017

Codex Space Marines - First Impressions on Intercessors

We've seen these new Primaris fellows in the various starter sets - and now that we've got the codex, we've got the full picture.  That being said, here's my first swag at just where the Intercessor Squad comes into play.

The Intercessor Squad - the basics
Squad Size - starts at five; if you go up to ten then you can combat squad them.

Weapon Options - so, here's where they really stand apart from the other troops choices.  Everyone carries a bolt pistol and one of three types of bolter - assault bolt rifle, a regular bolt rifle, or a stalker bolt rifle.  Also for every five guys, one of them grabs an under-barrel grenade launcher.  And that's it - those are your options.

Mobility Options - grab a repulsor, or walk.

Battlefield Role
They're probably walking, unless you sprung for a Repulsor - which is awesome, and also like 250-300 points of firepower.  You also probably want something more painful in squad than a few bobs with bolters.  Sarge can grab as word in a pinch, and with three attacks he's not terrible in mlee.

 That being said, the battlefield role depends on their bolter of choice -

1) Bolt Rifle
This is your 'IDK' loadout - compared to a regular bolter, you've got another six inches of range and a -1AP.  Factor in the auxiliary grenade launcher and you're reasonably flexible; you've got one dude that can sorta/kinda threaten armor (Krak grenades) and everyone else has bolts for folks on foot.

2) Auto Bolt Rifle
You pay an extra point a guy to get an assault 2 bolter.  Better volume of fire at range, but you lose the -1AP.  And you should have that aux grenade launcher.  The assault bolters win out at longer range in terms of volume of fire and do better against lighter targets.

3) Stalker bolt rifle
You're now a heavy 1 36" rifle with a -2AP.  This is your camping squad - you trade volume of fire for range, and a pretty solid AP.  They can pick off stragglers at range, though - and that -2AP is going to annoy anyone without cover or a decent invulnerable save.

Compared to Other Troops
1) Tactical Squads
I don't think Intercessors are going to put tac squads out of business any time soon.

-versatility (sarge has options, and you can take a special and heavy weapon)
-weapon options allow tac squads to engage targets that Intercessors cannot do so effectively (IE - armor, vehicles, etc.)
-cost per model - a tactical marine is about 65% the points cost of a regular one
-transport options - you have Rhinos and Razorbacks
-less durable (1W models vs 2W models)
-basic-issue bolter is inferior to all the options in terms of range and/or volume of fire and/or AP

So it's a matter of role - Intercessors and Tac Squads compete for the following roles - short-range firefight (bolt rifles and bolters+flamers) or home-base objective camping (long-range anti-infantry via Stalker rifles vs. heavy weapons at home).

The biggest difference is that if you're trying to keep it cheap, a five-man band of Intercessors is going to be a bit more durable than a minimal tac squad.

2) Scout Squads
This is a bit of apples-and-oranges comparison.  You can't really compare scouts deploying via Concealed Positions - the Interecessor don't have that.  You're trading durability for board position.  Instead, I'll compare Scouts w/ camo cloaks and sniper rifles to Intercessors

-slightly cheaper per model
-can take a heavy weapon
-sniper rifles can pick out characters
-sniper rifles can inflict mortal wounds (if you're lucky, so maybe like one per shooting round)

-need cover to get a comparable save (both have a 2+ in cover; the scouts get a 4+ in the open)
-sniper rifles without mortal wounds are inferior to Stalker bolt guns
-scouts are inferior in melee (one less attack in melee each)

I think Stalker-armed Intercessor squads are a reasonable substitute for snipers - they aren't as dependent on terrain, if the other side DOES get into hand-to-hand with you, you're slightly better off.  Slightly.

3) Crusader Squads
Crusader Blobs (bunch a guys with pistols/swords) are simply going to be meaner in CQC due to volume of attacks and the number of bodies they can bring.  Crusader squads as campers win due to cost and ability to take a special AND heavy weapon in a five-man screw.

In Closing
Intercessors trade the flexibility of tactical squads* for the durability of multi-wound models,
** and cheap access to transports.  They bring better rifles, and unless you're dumping them in a Repulsor then you're using them as mid-to-backfield support.  Intercessors with Stalker rifles compare reasonably well with Scout Snipers*** for backfield campers, and can even sorta/kinda fight in melee.

They're not going to be replacing tactical squads any time soon, but they do offer some durable backfield support.

At least, not at first glance.

*and heavy weapons
**and a hardcore allergy to 2-damage weapons.  Like, hardcore.  It's not even funny, unless you're the one shooting at 'em.
***trade mortal wounds and the ability to cap characters for durability and a lack of reliance on terrain

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