This week I'm going to jump to the Space Marine Codex and the Heavy Support slot to take a look at the
What We Get
Well for 100pts and a heavy slot we get a Techmarine with full Servo-harness and all the special rules that come with that...oh, and a gun...a big gun. However, both of these things need a little more analysis and this can largely be done independant of each other.
Techmarine: Has the same stat line as a standard marine, which is nothing to be sniffed at, but his save is 2+ meaning he can shrug off Krak Missiles and Battle Cannon shells. The Servo-harness means that he has a flamer, twin linked plasma pistol and 2 power fist attacks on top of his other attacks. While this in no way makes him a combat beast, it does mean should his Cannon get destroyed he can run and join a nearby squad of Marines or Devastators to give them a little more combat punch/counter charge threat.
His "Bolster Defences" means that should you have a piece of ruins in your DZ you can give yourself a nice 3+ piece of terrain to hide in, and this works even better should you have Telion, or some cammo cloaks. Now, this terrain doesn't have to be fully in your deployment area which means in DoW and Spearhead you're likely to be able to find something over lapping into your area, but be sure to talk through with your opponent before the game kicks off what counts as ruins.
Finally his "Blessing" rule gives him the ability to provide more back field support to Rifleman Dreads and Predators if the Thunderfire is taken out.
Thunderfire: Has a 60" range and 3 fire modes...oh, and if you take into account the above Techmarine bought from the Elite section it costs 25pts! Bargain! The fire modes have very different uses. The Surface Detonation is great to use against light vehicles such as Radiers, Trukks etc due to BS4 and 4 shots that are not Barrage which means each blast rolls seperately so you should average at least 2 hits on a vehicle. It's also very good at hitting bunched up Marine squads as it wounds on a 2+, yes they get their save as it's only AP5 but you'll take them down with sheer weight of fire and it also means DE don't get FnP.
The Airburst is good at taking out T3-4 Infantry that depends on its cover saves to survive, Guard Blob Squads, Ork Boyz, Grots, Gaunts etc are all choice targets. Finally the Subterranean blast, while only S4 is great at slowing down Infantry, and making bikes, jump troops and vehicles take dangerous terrain tests. I'm not saying you should count on it, but it does have the possibility of immobilising landraiders, and bunched up tanks...the template only has to touch them...and you have 4 of them!
(She clearly likes artillery...why dont you?)
Now the biggest downside to the Thunderfire is that it's Artillery which means that any shooting at the unit is randomised between the two, and 66% of the time it will hit the Gun. Any glancing or penetrating hits will destroy the Cannon and leave your Techmarine running around in the back field without his favourite toy. However, this all comes down to deployment and cover saves. I would like to direct you all to pg51 of the Main Rule Book where it states unless otherwise mentioned:
"...these units follow the same rules as infantry."
Now under artillery it says that the unit cannot run, and cannot go upstairs in ruins...but it doesn't mention anything about cover saves. This means you use the cover saves as written for infantry which I'm sure we all know works by calculating if half of the squad is in cover or not. As the unit is 2 models strong placing the Techmarine in cover will give a cover save to the unit, and then when fired upon you randomise the hits and then take your cover saves. The only real reference to Artillery being vehicles is to do with armour value and glance/pen-ing not to do with cover saves, therefore the Infantry rules apply. This coupled with Bolster Defences means you could be sitting in some nice 3+ Ruins. Remember though both the Techmarine and the Cannon need to be able to draw LoS to their target.
One final thought is that you can also buy a Drop Pod for the squad, now you should never deploy the Thunderfire in the Pod, you want it on every turn from turn one, firing. However, this does allow you to manipulate the Drop Pod Assault rules meaning if you had for example a Dread and a Tactical Squad in Pods you could bring them both down in Turn 1 and then leave the Techmarines pod in reserve, or use it to block LoS by dropping it in front of some Long Fangs etc making your opponent move, or waste a turn of shooting.
As always this is just my opinion but I hope at least I've made you all take a second look at the Thunderfire. This will be the last in the series for now. Underdogs will still pop up from time to time when I come across something I think should be written about, but it wont be on a strict weekly basis. I hope you've enjoyed the ride though.
I rolled 7: (5/2)