Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Dark Angels Analysis - Company Master

Over the next 2 weeks I aim to finish the Dark Angels analysis, so that I can shell out on the new Chaos Daemons Codex on the 2nd and start on that. This means that there may be more than one post each day, so make sure to keep checking here for new posts.

Today I move on to the HQ section, starting with the generic Hqs. This one should be quite quick, it's only the Company Master, meaning that there should be another post coming your way later this evening.

The Company Master is the Captain equivalent for the Dark Angels. He comes in quite heftily base, 25pts more expensive than a base Chaos Lord. However, you are getting a little bit more for your points. He comes with an Iron Halo as standard, which isn't bad, and he comes with Inner Circle, making him Fearless but also giving him Preferred Enemy: Chaos Space Marines. He also comes with Frag and Krak Grenades and dual close combat weapons. 

The Company Master is very similar to the Chaos Lord in another way, he can take a boatload of wargear. First up, the rather basic, non-categorised wargear. His invulnerable save can be improved by taking a Storm Shield for 15pts. I would only bother with this if he is also going to take Artificer Armour for an additional 20pts. There's no point loading him down with more points when he is still only a 3 wound marine. If you want to start kitting him out, and spending lots of points on him, you need to make him more difficult to kill.

Alternatively, you could spend double the cost of Artificer armour to get Terminator armour. So you're essentially paying 20pts extra for a Power Weapon, Storm Bolter, 5+ invulnerable save and the inability to run people down. I'd prefer Artificer armour, Storm Shield to be honest. However, it does give you access to a certain, 'Terminator wargear section'.

You can also take the Perfidious Relic of the Unforgiven for the same cost as a Storm Shield. The only reason that you'd take this is for the +1 to Deny the Witch rolls. I personally wouldn't take it, as it's more of a points sink and you only deny on a 5+, which is a lot better than a 6+ but still unlikely.

Now. Specialist Chapter Wargear, starting with the non-Terminator stuff. You have a choice of Melee weapons, Ranged weapons, Special issue wargear and Chapter relics. Starting from the top with the boring stuff.

Melee weapons, the Company Master can replace his Chainsword with a Chainsword for free. Or he can replace a Bolt Pistol with a Chainsword for free, which you'd never do because the only difference between a Bolt Pistol and a Chainsword is that one can fire a shot each turn.

You can then take a Lightning Claw or a Power Weapon for the same amount as the Storm Shield/ The only reason that you'd take a Power Weapon over the Lightning Claw is if you wanted an Axe or a Maul, as the Claw does the job of the Sword only with re-rolls for the same points cost. You really want your Company Master to have AP2 though, as it will prevent him from being tied down as easily in challenges or combats in general. If you're in Artificer armour or any kind of armour with a 2+ save you should be able to shrug off higher initiative hits as they are worse than AP2 as standard, with a few exceptions of course.

Speaking of AP2, Unwieldy weapons, you have the Thunder Hammer and the Power Fist. The difference between the two is that the Thunder Hammer comes with the Concussion special rule, whilst the Power Fist is 5pts cheaper. Concussion isn't really worth 5pts, so I'd go with the Power Fist. The question then comes as to whether it is worth spending 10pts more than a Power Axe to double your Strength? I would probably say yes. Simply because not only are you more likely to wound, but you are also causing instant death to other Marine characters. Not only that, but it also makes you a lot more threatening to higher toughness models such as Monstrous Creatures, Thunderwolf Cavalry and Wraithguard.

On to ranged weaponry. If you're taking a Power Fist over your Chainsword, you're not getting dual close combat weapon attacks anyway, so you may as well swap out your Bolt Pistol. You could get a Boltgun, which is free, you may as well. You could also take a Storm Bolter for 5pts. I'd be tempted by this option over the Boltgun simply because it's an Assault weapon, so you can still charge after you fire it, but isn't so deadly that it'll severely reduce your chances of getting into combat successfully, and it also fires 2 shots at the full 24” range, meaning that you can still be just as effective from further away.

I probably wouldn't go with a combi-weapon. As I've said in previous posts, I don't like one shot weapons in most cases, especially if they're taken individual and not en-mass. Therefore, I'd take a Storm Bolter over the combi-weapons. Finally, you can take a Plasma Pistol, which has the same problem that it has in the Chaos Marine codex. It's far too expensive for what it does.

Special Issue wargear now. First up, the Auspex. For 5pts I really like this piece of wargear, reduce the cover save of 1 enemy unit within 12” by 1. Again, another example of synergy. If you barrel your Company Master forwards, use the Auspex on one enemy unit, use your long range firepower to shoot it to death whilst your Company Master charges another unit, the only problem being how to get him there, but I'll come onto that in the Land Raider post.

The combat shield is crap, he comes with a 4+ invulnerable save as base, he doesn't need to pay for a 6+. The infravisor isn't particularly useful either, a cool piece of wargear, just not very useful. He won't be doing much long range shooting, he doesn't need Night Vision. Melta bombs could be useful though, if you have 5pts spare, although he may already have a Power Fist, so their only use would really be against vehicles with all round high armour, like a Land Raider, and I've only played against 3 since the start of 6th edition, although I do like the things, I'm surprised that more people don't take them.

Digital Weapons, this is a difficult one, assuming Power Fist, I wouldn't take it. What it does is it allows you to re-roll to wound once per assault phase, but you're wounding on 2s anyway, and it costs double what an Auspex costs.

Porta-rack. This is a weird upgrade, I've not seen anything like it before. Kill an enemy character, and you get fear and preferred enemy, so just preferred enemy considering that it's the only one that is useful then. However, the interesting part is that you then get to use the opponent's teleport homers and locater beacons as though they were your own. There are 2 problems that I see with this though. Number 1. How many codecies have locater beacons and teleport homers? Number 2. By the time that you've killed an enemy character with your Company Master all of your reserve will probably have already come in anyway. So I wouldn't take this either.

I wouldn't say that the Conversion field is particularly worthwhile either, it's 15pts, and is useless if you have a Storm Shield, but if you pass a 4+ invulnerable save whilst you have it, everything within D6” will suffer blind, with friendly units re-rolling the test. A bit like Fulgrim's shiny armour.

I probably wouldn't say that the Jump Pack is a great option here. Again it costs 15pts but you really want to put the Company Master in with a unit to stop him from being picked on by strength 8 shots, and you don't want to waste your Fast Attack slots on Assault Marines. Although they're not bad, there are better and faster options. Like Bikes for instances, if only the Company Master was allowed to take one, I still don't understand why not but GW have spoken.

For 10pts more than a Storm Shield you can get a Displacer field. This also gives you a 3++ (invulnerable) save, so you're paying 10pts for the gimmick. The gimmick being that every time you pass a 3++ save you scatter D6 inches. This doesn't add anything to your Company Master, you might scatter in the direction that you want to go, or you might scatter completely away from it, or you might scatter out of cover in front of a Long Fang pack. When building competitive lists you want to try to remove the random element as much as you can. If you want a 3++ save, take a Storm Shield.

Finally, the Power Field Generator. It's 30pts, and everyone within 3” of you gets a 4++ save. I wouldn't take it, it's very expensive to give a handful of models a 4+ invuln and it instantly makes you more vulnerable to barrage weapons, as they can be centred on the Company Master and still get a tonne of hits.

Finally into the exciting stuff, Chapter Relics. The first is the Foe-Smiter. 20Pts for a master-crafted, 24” version of Warpfire (the 5th ed Daemons version). Pretty crap. Next.

For the same points you can get the Lions roar, 20pts for a master-crafted assault, 24” Plasma Cannon. Now that's a little better, I'm liking the assault on that. However, whether I'd pay 20pts for that on my Company Master, someone who's probably going to be going forward, I'm not sure.

For 10pts more I can get a close combat weapon. It has blind, concussive, and gives you +3 to your strength, it's also AP2...but only against Chaos Space Marines, AP3 against everything else. You really want that AP2 consistently on your assaulty ICs.

For 15pts more than that, you can get the Monster-slayer of Caliban (sounds powerful). Then you get into what it does. The first thing that I don't like about it is that it is random, as in, you won't know what the weapon does until the assault phase where you roll on a chart. If you get a 1, it counts as a normal Power Sword. 2-4, a Power Sword with +1 strength (still underwhelmed). 5-6, a Power Sword with +2 Strength and Instant Death. You can cover it with all manner of additional strength and the possibility of Instant Death, but it's still a Power Sword, for 45pts. Backing away.

So, that's it for the Melee weapons, I think that we've determined that there is no, 'Axe of Bind Fury' or 'Black Mace' in here, as neither of them are particularly good. We do have left a single 50pt upgrade though. It gives you Feel No Pain – nice – and so long as you're not with a unit you get Shrouded, and that's it. You don't care about shrouded, when you're in the open you have a 4++ save anyway and won't need a 5+ cover, plus, the only time this will be useful is when in cover or covered by the Darkshroud, the Darkshroud will still only make it a 4+ cover, and there's no point sticking your Company Master in the back hiding in terrain not doing anything, especially when he's at least 140pts. So essentially, you're paying 50pts for your Company Master to have Feel No Pain, how is that even remotely worth it for him.

As for the Terminator options, all that means is that you can get a combi-weapon for 4 less points. Not good enough considering the extra 20pts that you're spending to get that armour over Artificer. Plus, if you're in Terminator armour, you can't take Melee weapons or ranged weapons, so for close combat, you're either stuck with your Power Weapon, or one of the crappy chapter relics.

So, the ideal layout for him would probably be, in my opinion:

Company Master: 155pts
-Artificer Armour
-Storm Shield
-Power Fist
-Storm Bolter

The problem is, is he worth it in this state. Sure he's pretty durable, but he only has 4 attacks on the charge, 3 base, and is quite expensive for what he does. I could take a Lone Wolf for 70 less points and although he has 1 less attack he is Eternal and comes with Feel No Pain as stock. I know it's stupid to compare units cross codecies, but when coming up against a Lone Wolf you know how they stack up, even though one is half the cost of the other.

The problem is also that he's eating a valuable HQ slot, a Librarian gives you so much more utility for much fewer points. Pouring a lot of points into a single beatstick character tends not to work too well, especially when he's not Eternal, for example, my Primaris Psyker beat down Typhus on full strength on Sunday. The difference is that at least Typhus also acts as a force multiplier, he gives you zombies.

All that you're doing with this guy is throwing him forward and hoping that he gets into combat, and then does enough damage or ties up a unit for long enough to make him worthwhile. I've seen my Lone Wolves cut down before they can reach combat enough times, the difference between a Lone Wolf dying to shooting before he can get into combat and your Company Master dying before he can get into combat is that 1. You've lost a much bigger chunk of your army, pointswise. And 2. You've wasted a slot from possibly the most valuable part of the Force Organisation chart in the Dark Angels Codex, there are so many other good HQ options.

So, in short, the Company Master isn't too bad, but there are just so many other better HQ options, and he's possibly a lot overcosted in the format shown.

Wow, I said this would be a short post, but it turned out to be almost 2,500 words. Guess I was wrong.

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