Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blood Angels: Predators vs. Missile Devastators

Right.  So I got this email about a month ago.  I was on my 'break' from blogging, and so didn't really feel like responding, though I probably should have anyways.  However, this is still a relevant topic, and since I've been working on my own Blood Angels list lately, it's also personally relevant.

Let's look at what the email has to say:

Hello Xaereth
I hope this e-mail finds you well :) I have something that I would like to ask you concerning BA heavy support options for jumper lists.
I realize that there is no clear answer to the question I’m asking and it also comes down to personal taste a little.

First the background: My gaming environment is fairly competitive with almost all of the armies being represented. But we don’t see much of the (very) boring Razorspam lists which seem to dominate the tournament scene. Then again everyone brings their best and I would dare say we have very good generals around. Also we play the game with decent terrain 25-40% of the table is always covered with good and varied (GW manufactured) terrain.

I’m a big BA fan and has always been atracted to the angels on wings of fire descending from the skies to protect human kind concept. Our codex therefore made me very happy by giving us angelic models, viable JP troops and a gunship smile.gif

I used to play a hybrid list in the old days with lots of tacticals rhinos with JP DC (and sometimes VAS) as my assault element. But now I’m very fond of my jumpers and I’m trying to stay away from MSU Rbacks. My usual lists would have a core of:
1 JP Librarian (Shield+Unleash Rage)
2 squads of RAS with 2 MG and a PF
Sanguinary guard with 2xIP and PF
2 Sanguinary priests with JP
AB squadron with 3 MM
On top of this skeleton I add Predators with AC+LC as much as the points allow me to (a min of two for 1500 pts games)

Here is my conundrum:
Is it a better idea to switch to Missile devastators instead of the predators?

Pros for Devs:
- Very Hard to suppress
- Lots of AP3 shots and possibility of firing frags
- 8 STR very important for insta-kills
- Hard to remove when a SP tags along
- All of the enemy anti-tank will be more or less wasted as my army composition will be tank free.
Cons for Devs:
- Not guaranteed to get to a good firing position in Night fight scenarios (I think this is the biggy, that’s 1/3 of the games!)
- Susceptible to close combat
- When the rest of the army deep strikes they are left alone on the field to endure of the enemy shooting.
- Very high chance to be ineffective if they are forced to be placed in reserve.

Pros for Preds:
- Mobile while shooting
- May use it’s full potential when it comes from reserves.
- 2 AP2 STR 9 shots
- May used to contest objectives/tank shock at the later stages of the game.
- (not ideal but) May be used as mobile cover for the jumpers if needed.
- Immune to small arms fire
Cons for Preds:
- Easily (compared to devs) suppressed (this is the biggy the preds)
- 2 AP 4 STR 7 shots
- May generate cover to targets as the sponsons are positioned low.

Price tag wise the devs come up a little more pricey because of the inlusion of the SP. 3 units + SP for 440pts while the preds are 405pts. I think this difference is more or less negligable msn-wink.gif

So what is your take, which one do you prefer and why?
Kind Regards and thank you for your time in advance :)

Halil Kardicali

My Response:

Hey there!  Sorry for the long time to reply, I've been sort of on Hiatus from all 40k blogging for over a month, and I hope you haven't given up on me.  I'll be much quicker in my responses in the future.

So, seems like you've done a good job of understanding the pros/cons of the debate.  You've got an excellent grasp on it, actually (though I wouldn't actually call 2 S7 shots a con for the preds).  So let me talk instead a little bit about practicality once we're actually playing - i.e. how it works off the paper.

First, I'll say that one of the things that many people miss in this game, is that they need to support all of their units.  There are of course exceptions, in the form of disruption units (i.e. Wolf Scouts) that are meant to take advantage of others lists that don't support their own units.  Blood Angels have a few of these units (Vanguard come to mind), but most are not viable in most competitive lists.  Therefore, we need to keep all our units supported.

One thing we are going to assume is that our list needs some sort of anti-tank, and that the most efficient form of this lies in either Predators or Devastators.  Whereas this idea may be arguable in other situations, we need to keep this assumption, in order to examine the most profitable choice in each situation.

That being said, it depends on the structure of your own list.  In the context of jumper marines, Predators are likely to be the best choice, since they'll be able to keep up with the assault marines.  They have a synergy with the assault marines, in that the Librarian can hand out a 5+ cover save to vehicles nearby, while the assault marines benefit from a cover save when behind the tanks themselves.  Conversely, the assault marines can easily give cover saves to the tanks as well, since they're nearly as tall as the Preds.

With a bunch of assault marines, Devastators leave a little to be desired.  They're being left behind, and whereas if you've done the right thing (the right thing being leaving a Sanguinary Priest behind with them to give out FNP), they'll be much harder to get rid of via shooting, the Devs will still be exposed to assault or harassment via reserves.  Since assault marines need to be, well, in assault and not hanging back, the two don't really have a lot of synergy.  That doesn't even take into account the idea that playing the 'reserves game' doesn't work out well at all if the list contains devastators (preds can still move on 6" and fire anywhere on the board).

Devastators belong in a more static sort of list, where if they're messed with, you have units available to countercharge or simply block off the threat (i.e. bubble wrap).  Devs benefit greatly from having a Razorback, so in Dawn of War they can still deploy 12" and run to spread out.  Razorbacks don't generally do a ton of awesome in a jumper list.  In a static list, they're tough like crazy to get rid of.

It's sort of the principle of "if you mess with part of my army, you mess with all of it" rather than simply being divided and conquered.  If an army is dependent on it's fire support (as Blood Angels Jumper armies certainly are) and that fire support is neutralized quickly, it's a safe assumption that they'll be in a tough spot.

Being able to protect your supporting units is an extremely aspect of gameplay that I feel that many players don't understand.  I know that I certainly suffer when I forget to support my important units.  Being a tough nut to crack forces your opponent to either get lucky, or make some extremely difficult decisions, which is generally what we want to force.

Guess that's about it.  Hope this helped!

Oh, I also wanted to tell you thank you so much for not playing Razorspam.  Seriously.  I'm not afraid of lists with 9-12 razorbacks, but... they annoy me greatly.  So, thanks for doing the right thing, lol :)

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