Friday, 30 October 2020

Space Marine Codex Review: Part 2- Stratagems (second half)

Welcome to the second part of my Space Marine 9th edition codex review. This part will look at the second half of the stratagems available to the Space Marines. 

Skilled Riders (1CP)- Use when a Biker, Land Speeder or Storm Speeder unit that advanced is targeted by an enemy shooting attack. The unit is at -1 to hit. 
This stratagem went from an invulnerable save (moving or advancing) to -1 to hit. Still pretty useful in some circumstances, but the invulnerable save was much better. I think this should still help the durability of Bikers, especially as they got an extra wound. The only issue is that you need to advance. Sadly, the White Scars have currently lost the stratagem to advance and still shoot (with everything but assault weapons), so there is less use in advancing. Nice if you need to advance onto an objective and want to make it harder to shift the squad from it. 

Uncompromising Fire (2CP)- The unit can shoot and still perform an action. 
Pricey at 2CP, but well worth it in my opinion. This allows your unit to perform an action on an objective or in the centre of the board for your secondaries and still get to shoot with the unit, meaning they are not wasted sitting doing nothing. Very powerful in the right circumstances. Also great for holding the centre of the board with something like Flamer Aggressors and still getting to shoot to good effect. A key stratagem for the Marines. 

Steady Advance (2CP)- An infantry unit acts as stationary until the end of the turn, even if they moved. 
Again, pricey at 2CP. I think this would be amazing if Aggressors could still double shoot if stationary. I can still see a strong use for this for a number of units. Devastators in Drop Pods can now fire their heavy weapons with no penalty, as well as allowing other units to move and fire to full effect. Great for getting into position or grabbing objectives. Also useful on Stalker Pattern Bolters. I think this will be great on the Dark Angles, as you will be getting +1 to hit as well, meaning Devastators can arrive from a Drop Pod and hit on a 2+ with their heavy weapons. 

Adaptive Strategy (2CP)- Use in the command phase if your warlord is on the battlefield. Select a core unit, until the next command phase, the unit acts as if the Devastator, Tactical and Assault Doctrines are in effect. 
A fantastic stratagem, that I think is going to see a lot of use. This is going to be brilliant for my White Scars, allowing them to activate the Assault Doctrine on turn 1 or 2, and really boosting their damage output. The only downside is that your warlord and the unit need to be on the battlefield, so you cannot use this when deploying from reserves or from a transport. This is going to be very strong for getting the Doctrine bonuses for a single unit at a key point in the game, or at several times during the game. 

Suppression Fire (1CP)- Used on a Whirlwind on a blast weapon. If an enemy unit is hit by the attack, they cannot fire overwatch or set to defend, and cannot be selected to fight until all other eligible units have been chosen. 
A pretty solid stratagem. The ability to deny overwatch is nice, but no longer too essential, as very few units are going to waste CP on firing overwatch a lot of the time. Nice if you are going to charge in to a flamer unit or other auto-hit weapons. The ability to make a unit fight last is also great, as I don't think this can be countered by the counter-attack stratagem. So could be very useful on a key enemy combat unit, allowing you to go in and deal with them without risk of getting attacked back. 

Terror Troops (2CP)- Used on a unit of Reviers, it either allows you to "turn off" objective secured on an enemy unit within 3", or stop them from performing an action unless they pass a leadership test. 
Again, this is pretty expensive at 2CP, but in the right circumstances, it could be game winning. You need to get in close to use this ability. I think the first ability to block objective secured is going to be more useful, especially when paired with your won obsec unit. The second ability is a bit more situational, and is risky, as they need to fail a Ld test (helped by the Ld modifiers of Reivers). 2CP is a lot to spend on the risk of a failed Ld test, but could be game winning in some situations. Also, Reivers are a bit lacklustre, meaning you need to bring a unit to get the effects of this. Could be useful on a Deathwatch kill team if they are allowed to use the stratagem, as the unit will be inherently objective secured and could steal objectives from a more numerous foe..

Guerilla Tactics (1CP)- Use when a Phobos unit is more than 6" away from an enemy unit in the movement phase is selected to move. The unit may be placed into strategic reserves.  
I get the intention of this stratagem, but it does seem to have somewhat limited use. First off, you must be 6" away from the enemy when selected to move, so you cannot move out of range, you need to be far enough away at the start of the turn. Second, you can only really use this on turn 1 or 2 at the moment, as using it on turn 3 will mean that your unit is destroyed, as they will be unable to deploy. Third, unless you are using it on a unit with grav-chutes, you will be more limited in where they can deploy from reserve. Could be useful for moving a unit onto an abandoned objective or to re-position if your opponent opts for a refused flank, or to help out backline units against an aggressive opponent. If you could use this later in the game, it would be great for going after objectives on turn 4 or 5. As it is now, I see limited potential for this stratagem. 

Orbital Bombardment (3CP)- One use only, used if your warlord is on the table. Mark a point on the battlefield. At the start of your next command phase, roll a D6 for each unit within 6" of the centre of the marker. On a 2+, they suffer D3 mortal wounds, on a 6+ they suffer D6 mortal wounds. If the unit is within 3" of the centre of the marker, add 1 to the roll, subtract 1 from the roll if a character is being targeted. 
This stratagem got a lot better! I can actually see great use out of this now. Previously, it was risky to spend 3CP on a D6" blast and causing damage on a 4+. It worked out great some times, but a lot of times, it was wasted 3CP. 
Now, however, this stratagem is much more reliable and works as a great area denial tool. I can see this being used on an objective or the midst of an enemy gunline. The fact that non-character units within 3" of the marker are automatically affected, and get D6 mortal wounds on a 5+ is awesome. This is going to be a great stratagem to employ for keeping enemy units clear of objectives, or trying to clear them off an objective with the risk of mortal wounds. 

Aupsex Scan (2CP)- Use at the end of the reinforcement step. Select an infantry unit and fire at an enemy unit that has arrived from reserves within 12". 
This stratagem no longer has the -1 to hit associated with it, making it more useful. I always found the risk of Auspex Scan more effective than the actual stratagem in most cases. However, could still come in useful for weaker enemy units arriving from reserves, such as Scions or Genestealer Cult forces. Also great with the extended range of Flamer weapons, allowing you to target units that arrive from reserve. 

Tremor Shells (1CP)- Use when firing a Thunderfire Cannon at an enemy unit, subtract one from the wound roll. If the shot hits, the enemy unit halves its movement and subtracts 2 from any Advance and Charge rolls. Does not work on Fly or Titanic units. 
This stratagem got a serious debuff, mostly thanks to the reduced power of the Thunderfire Cannon and loss of the double shoot stratagem. Subtracting 2 from advance and charge rolls is still useful, but not as good as halving the rolls. I can see the Thunderfire Cannon getting very little use now. Useful every once in a while, but not really worth taking the Cannon for now. 

Shock and Awe (1CP)- Use when a Speeder Storm or Shock Grenades unit is selected to shoot. Choose an enemy unit within 6", the unit cannot fire Overwatch or set to defend. It also subtracts 1 from hit rolls. 
Pretty useful, but does require you to get in close to use it. Denying overwatch is a nice bonus, but less useful now. The -1 to hit is good, as it should reduce enemy firepower or combat ability. Pretty good on a Speeder Storm, as it is fast enough to get in close to the enemy army and is reasonably durable against attacks. It does not say you need to shoot at that enemy unit, so you can shock one unit and fire your weapons at other units. 

Assault Launchers (1CP)- Use at the start of the Charge phase. Target an enemy unit within 9" (not vehicle or monster), they can either brace or duck for cover. If they brace, they suffer D3 mortal wounds. If they duck and cover, they subtract 1 from their attacks and cannot fire overwatch or set to defend. 
A nice bonus to soften up enemy units, especially if they duck and cover. Useful for when you are assaulting a powerful enemy unit and want to limit their attacks. The mortal wounds are a nice bonus, but could make a charge longer if they choose to remove close enemy models. 

Melta bomb (1CP)- Use in the fight phase on a Melta bomb unit. One model in the unit can make a single attack against an enemy vehicle. If a hit is scored, it does 2D3 mortal wounds. 
A nice bonus when going up against enemy units with an Assault Squad or Vanguard Veteran squad. Also can be used by the Deathwatch with a Vanguard Veteran in a kill team. It would be nice if this was army wide, not just limited to a few select units. Could come in useful, but only if you are running these squads. 

Grav Pulse (1CP)- Use on a Repulsor unit. You can either fall back and still shoot, or enemy units subtract 2 from charge rolls when charging the Repulsor. 
A decent stratagem allowing the Repulsor to fall back and still shoot or make charges a bit more difficult. Very useful to keep up their firepower and stop them from being locked in combat after the changes to Fly and the loss of it from the vehicle. 

Hellfire Shells (1CP)- Use when an Infantry model fires a Heavy Bolter (and variants). The model makes a single attack, but if it hits, scores D3 mortal wounds (or 3 if targeting a Monster). 
The old classic is back and gets a nice boost against Monster units. A nice stratagem that should see use, especially now that Heavy Bolters have gone up to damage 2 and are likely to see the field more. 

Flakk Missile (1CP)- Use on an Infantry model with a Missile Launcher targets an Aircraft unit. You make a single attack and add 1 to the hit roll. If it hits, it scores 2D3 mortal wounds. 
Limited to Aircraft only, rather than fly units, but the damage is increased to 2D3. I like this one, it is great for taking on pesky Eldar flyers. 

Smokescreen (1CP)- Use in the shooting phase, when an enemy unit targets a Smokescreen unit. Subtract 1 from hit rolls against that unit. 
This effectively replaces smoke launchers on vehicles and smoke grenades on other units. Can only be used once per turn, which makes smoke launchers less effective. Could be handy to use every once in a while, and will allow you to still fire with your vehicles in your turn, while also getting the bonus of smoke in the enemy shooting phase. The downside is that you can use this, and your opponent can just shoot at your other vehicles with other units in his army. 

The second half of the stratagem pages provide some great new additions to the codex. The more expensive stratagems are generally more useful for me, with Adaptive Strategy, Steady Advance and Uncompromising Fire being particularly strong. 
A number of the more powerful stratagems from 8th edition have seen a reduction in power or a limit to which units can use them. A shame, but probably a necessary downgrade in many cases. The Thunderfire Cannon has seen some big reductions in strength, so I think it will be rarer in Marine armies from now on. 

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