Saturday, 9 March 2013

Dark Angels Analysis - Sammael

Sorry that there hasn't been much content of late, it's getting to that time of year where I suddenly become really busy. I did try to write an article on the train on the way back to Sheffield for the weekend, but because the Blogger App is terrible it managed to lose it, so here we go again.

Up today we have Sammael. He is the most expensive of the Dark Angels characters weighing in at 200pts on the nose, he is also the only character in the book to have the Eternal Warrior special rule. This really is a big deal, Eternal Warrior is extremely useful, and although you could say that it would be more useful on other characters rather than Sammael due to his T5 offsetting S8-9, when there is S10 weaponry knocking around he is far more susceptible to it. S10 in general is blast weaponry, and due to his jetbike he's a much larger model than say, Azrael. But also, because he only has a 3+ save he is much more likely to take that wound than the other characters if he is hit, so being Eternal is still really important for him.

Obviously his main claim to fame, and biggest force multiplication attribute is his ability to make Ravenwing Bikers troops. I would argue that this is an even bigger bonus to your army than the ability to make Deathwing Terminators troops, for several reasons.

Firstly, speed. The fact that they can get across the board so quickly really is a positive attribute when taking objectives. Firstly, because you do not have to take as many turns of fire when taking an objective, as you can hide before zooming straight onto an objective turn 5. Admittedly if the game goes on they can't take the fire as well but by that point your opponent is likely to have less shooting to pump into you, and the Bikers T5 again really helps to offset small arms fire such as Lasguns and Bolters.

Additionally, if you are using Terminators you will want to get them stuck in. However, if you also want to use them to take objectives further up the field then you will have to break from the fight, reducing your damage output due to your reluctance to get into combat in case you are tied up (unlikely but possible) or because combat is too far away to allow you to get back to your objective in time. This really isn't a problem for the Bikers, due to hit and run. With my Space Wolves a problem I am having is committing my Grey Hunters, as I fear them getting tied up for too long. Not having to worry about this is a real boost for the Ravenwing, and again because of their speed they often don't have to worry about getting into combats too far away.

However, the problem that Ravenwing will have is actually pushing your opponent of their objectives, as they do not have the hitting power of the Deathwing. All that has been shown so far is that they are good for picking up loose objectives, and the problem therefore comes in how to make them loose in the first place. Therefore, they need to be backed up by heavier hitting units, probably from range to leave them more space to manoeuvre, to clear the objectives somewhat allowing the Bikers to move in, mop up what's left and take the objective.

However, onto Sammael as an individual. Again, he has the same statline as a Company Master, with the exception of being T5 due to his Bike. He comes in Power Armour, and has no option to upgrade this, although he does come with a Night Halo, which is essentially identical to the Iron Halo, so a 4++ save, making him a little less susceptible to those Krak Missiles.

Although he does ride a Jetbike, I still think that you will want Sammael in a squad of Bikers, the simple reason for this being that by himself, he is the equivalent of 3 Biker marines in terms of durability. Granted he does have a 4++ save but most of the time your Bikers are going to be getting that from turbo boosting anyway. Therefore, in putting him in a squad you are restricting his movement, but at least you are able to split him off from the squad to prey on a smaller unit late game when there is less of a danger for him.

Speaking of going off to prey on a squad, Sammael can put out a decent amount of damage by himself. Like Belial, probably not enough to warrant his points cost just on this basis, but then remember that he also has his other abilities too. In terms of damage, when shooting he can put out a Plasma Cannon and a twin-linked Storm Bolter, that Plasma Cannon being the main source of damage output at range, and can often scare your opponent, and is also a good way of manipulating your opponent to spread their army out if that's what you're looking for, as it will make the charge easier as the squad covers a larger area and so you don't need as long a distance as if it was concentrated.

11" away.
9" away

Ok, so not the largest difference in the world, but sometimes it's the little things that can turn games. Plus that Plasma Cannon will still do some damage.

On to how he performs in close combat. He's not bad, but he's not a monster either. He sort of suffers from the opposite problem to Belial. He does strike at AP2 and he does strike at initiative. The problem is the number of wounds that he causes, because he strikes at base strength. On the charge he's getting 5 attacks. 3 base, 1 for charging, dual close combat weapons for the Bolt Pistol. Hitting on 3s, 3.3 with 1 re-roll, so about 3.9 times, followed up by 4s to wound, so 2 dead marines.

That's not bad at all if you keep plugging away, and it's not like that squad of Marines is going to hold you up for a while as you slowly work your way through them as you can just leave combat whenever you want.

Penultimately, Sammael also makes for a good Warlord. Despite his 3+ save he's still very durable mainly due to his Eternal Warrior, T5, the fact that he's extremely difficult to pin down and that if he's in trouble he can dart off and hide, no problem. Additionally, if you are taking a Ravenwing army (which you probably are with Sammael, as if you're not I'd probably say that he's not worth it), then his Warlord Trait is extremely beneficial. This is because he adds an extra D6” to each of your turbo-boost and flat out moves. If he joins a unit of infantry, they also run faster, but that's probably just beneficial to Warlords that roll this trait and are not on a Bike, etc.

Finally, Sammael can sit on a Land Speeder instead of his Bike. In which case, he is now on a 14, 14, 10 vehicle with an Assault Cannon and a Heavy Bolter, both of which are twin-linked at a high BS. Essentially, there's not much change. You could leave combat as you please most of the time anyway without being in a vehicle, you're swapping your Plasma Cannon and your twin-linked Storm Bolter for an Assault Cannon and a Heavy Bolter. I'd probably say that the latter does more damage, but the former gets into your opponents head a bit more as it allows them to do things to try and mitigate it, but leave them susceptible to other forms of attack. Sammael is also probably a little more durable in this against shooting, but much less so in combat, as the Land Speeder will not last there. You also cannot join squads whilst at the Speeder.

Therefore, I'd suggest keeping him on his Bike, he does well when shooting, when in combat and he's durable in the vast majority of situations, a good all round character. However, as I mentioned earlier, he doesn't really justify his points if you're not using him in conjunction with a Ravenwing army, if you want a Ravenwing army, he's fantastic.

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