The Dark Angels Analysis segment should be finished by Sunday. The plan is to absolutely bomb the remaining units allowing me to concentrate on the impending Chaos Daemons throughout the next month. Left to do I have the 3 Land Raider variants, the dedicated transports of the Razorback, Rhino and Drop Pod, and the special characters. So to close out February, here come the Land Raiders.
There are 3 variants of Land Raider that you can take, the standard issue Land Raider, the Land Raider Crusader and the Land Raider Redeemer. I'm not really going to go through the individual loadouts that you can give each Land Raider, but I will do a quick overview of vehicle upgrades towards the end.
To determine which Land Raider is the best you really have to define what you want your Land Raider to accomplish. The most common application is as a transport for your Elite close combat units, as it's very well armoured and an assault vehicle. You probably aren't going to purchase it as either moving cover or a gun platform, as it is far too expensive for what you get for that application.
For example, the bog standard Land Raider. Weighs in at about the same points cost as the others, around 250pts. It has the smallest transport capacity of the Land Raiders of just 10 models, it comes with Smoke Launchers, a Searchlight and has Power of the Machine Spirit.
So, with its low transport capacity it probably fulfils the role of transport the worst, and to a degree you're right. What the trade off is is that you are getting a pintle-mounted twin-linked Heavy Bolter instead of the pintle-mounted twin-linked Assault Cannon and Twin-Linked Lascannons instead of the other sponsons. What?
Let's compare the pintle-mounted weapon first. The Assault Cannon is like a Heavy Bolter except with an extra shot, +1 strength and Rending, whilst the Heavy Bolter has +12” range. In my view, that additional range is all but worthless to you. You aren't paying 250pts to sit away from the enemy and shoot them with your Heavy Bolter, you're paying those kind of points to smash forward and unload a hammer unit. Therefore, you're going to be within 24” range anyway. Therefore, you might as well take the Assault Cannon over the Heavy Bolter, plus the Assault Cannon transports have more space for your hammer.
Now the Lascannons do have their, uses, but again, it's falling into the trap of wanting to pull it back and use it like a gunboat once you have dropped off your cargo, remember, it's only 2 shots, and think of how many vehicles are kicking around right now, not many. To be honest, I'd rather have the additional transport capacity.
So, how does the next one fare against the standard Land Raider. The Land Raider Crusader.
The Crusader has the largest transport capacity of all of the Land Raiders, boasting an impressive 16 spaces, or 8 bulky models. You're then swapping out the Heavy Bolter found on the standard Raider for an Assault Cannon, and you're exactly the same points cost. However, you do swap the Lascannons for Hurricane Bolters. I don't think that this is all too bad really, you're still getting 6 twin-linked Bolters which aren't bad for infantry cleansing, and remember, your main function is to get your close combat Elite into the fray, and the additional transport capacity really helps.
The other thing that really makes the Crusader shine against the standard is that it also comes with Frag Assault Launchers, meaning that a unit charging out of the Crusader will count as having Assault Grenades. Very handy.
The main competition to the Crusader for the best Land Raider however is the Land Raider Redeemer. There are a couple of small differences but not many. Firstly, the Redeemer has a smaller transport capacity of 12. However, it is 5pts cheaper, with the only other difference being its sponson weapons.
Now I say only, the Redeemer loses the Hurricane Bolters, but instead gains Flamestorm Cannons, which – minus the torrent – have the exact same statline as a Baleflamer on a Heldrake. This means that even after you have dropped your Terminators, you can still continue to be a threat, especially if you're playing against a Marine army, which you will often be doing.
What it comes down to essentially is whether you would like to get more Terminators into your opponent's deployment zone via your Land Raider, or whether you would like your Land Raider to be more useful once it has actually accomplished the deed. I personally prefer the Redeemer, but I understand the choice of the Crusader.
Into vehicle upgrades quickly. Every Land Raider can take a Multi-Melta for an additional 10pts. You can do if you want, but it's just pouring more points into guns, and that's not what you're looking to do.
Additionally, if it is selected as a Dedicated Transport for one of your Deathwing units, it will cost you can extra 30pts to make it a Deathwing vehicle, making you venerable and hate Chaos Marines. I'd personally take it as a Heavy Support choice and then just put the Terminators in it. Save some points.
As for the other vehicle upgrades. A dozer blade is something to be considered, it's really cheap in comparison to the Land Raider and the last thing you want is to immobilise yourself.
The main question really though is whether the Land Raider really has a place in the Dark Angels Codex? Will it ever get used. Remember that you can Deathwing Assault on turn 1 to get right up in your opponent's grill, and with Deep Strike being a lot safer due to armour saves for dangerous terrain checks and only dying to mishap on a 1, why pay all those points for a Land Raider.
Essentially, the difference is that through a Land Raider, there is less risk, as although the risk through Deep Strike is only small, it's still there. Additionally, if you deep strike in, your Terminators are likely to take a large number of shots before they can charge in the next turn, so you're going to lose a couple, the Land Raider ensures that they arrive unharrassed. Really, how important is that to you?