I've found a really good use for this blog. Debates on Facebook. Posting arguments on a blog and then linking into Facebook is easier to read than slapping a huge slab of text down and hoping someone will read it. So what I am going to be arguing for here is that Maulerfiends are a good unit and that Defilers are not, thus reinforcing my stance and attacking the counter-argument being presented. Behold!
Right, so a fresh breakdown of the Maulerfiend. Essentially what makes it tick is that it's very cheap and very quick. Yes, it's great for smashing vehicles and fortifications, but it works fantastically well as an anti-infantry unit was well. It is absolutely fantastic for knocking units off objectives in the late game and dominating the board, it doesn't do too much damage, but it will take down a couple of guys and the threat of it is tying up units for the game.
Let's look into this as an example. If charges into a big mob of Ork Boyz moving towards and objective. It now can't be shot to death because it's in combat, the Boyz can't hurt it, and they can't run away through 'our weapons are useless' because they're Fearless. That objective is suddenly much less of a worry.
Now, let's take another example, a squad of enemy Space Marines, charged by your Maulerfiend, you're killing them slowly, they can't run away because they can just about hurt you and they're unlikely to hurt you anyway with 4s/6s then a 5++. Plus It Will Not Die.
So, although the Maulerfiend doesn't put out much damage, it is fantastic for tying units down, and if it eventually goes down. It was 125pts, so what? If you have multiple as well you have a bit of saturation to get you through shooting but they're quick enough to dart between pieces of terrain with a reliable 17-18" move per turn. Plus their threat range is enormous with the 12" beast move plus the 12" fleeted charge. The reason it's so good for it's points is because it specialises in a certain field, tying stuff down and smashing vehicles, it doesn't have any bling that can only be used if something else isn't.
So, the Defiler, it's essentially the opposite of the Maulerfiend, so I wouldn't normally compare the two but hey, that's how the debate is going. The problem with the Defiler, and the reason that I don't like it, is because it really doesn't specialise. It weighs in at over 200 points, and normally you can break units up into 3 categories, shooty, choppy, and utility.
The Defiler can fire it's Battlecannon at 72", S8 AP3. Large Blast at BS3. Would you say that is 200+pts worth of shooting to you? Probably not.
Then it has close combat, it gets a couple of attacks and if it hits you it probably kills you. But, compared to a Maulerfiend, it's not overly quick. So, is that 200+pts worth of shooting to you? Probably not.
Utility, it's pretty durable provided that you aren't facing too much high strength and low ap (the latter being the kicker here, 4hp and IWND is a Bitch to shift through glancing), but is that 200+pts worth of utility? Well, no.
Now, you could argue that the Defiler is decent because if you want to play it in a shooting role, it can do that, etc, etc. However, this all boils down to efficiency.
In 1,750, a bloke who I think was called John Smith or something I don't know (a while since a-level Economics) wrote a book about the division of labour, essentially this demonstrated that you could produce more goods in a shorter space of time if you divided your workforce down into different sections of the manufacturing process. Forcing them to specialise in certain sections caused them to get better at those sections and thus each stage was more efficient and so was the overall workforce.
The same applies here. If you were to take a Defiler, and put it in a close combat role, it wouldn't cause as much damage as a, cheaper, Juggerlord with an Axe of Blind Fury. If you were to put it in a shooting role, it wouldn't do as well as a Heldrake with a Baleflamer. If you were to put it in a utility role, it wouldn't tie stuff up like the Maulerfiend or buff the rest of the force like...... a Farseer on a bike (well you get the point).
So essentially, my argument here is that no matter how you use your Defilers, you're never going to get your full points out of them because they cannot fulfill all of their roles simultaneously.
In addition, the only time that you actually did any damage to me with Defilers was when I gated my guard blob in a big clump behind the Defilers because I'd already won the game and wanted you to enjoy shooting something.