Ok so the ordeal continues (I don’t know who I feel more sorry for, me having to write a short book, or you having to read my nonsense). Much interest will probably be taken in the fast attack sections of all the codices up until 7th ed or beyond because 9 out of 10 times this is where you will find the flyers (dedicated cheese notwithstanding). But contrary to popular belief there are units other than the flying kind in FA.
So here is a quick rundown of my first impressions of what Chaos has to offer, and for the most part, pretty good it looks too.
You may remember this choice from 5th edition, then again you may not as you’re unlikely to have ever have seen one. But where this choice was one the ugly duckling of the book, it is now definitely the beautiful swan. Now, a lot of people argue that bikes have got a buff in the new edition just due to the changes in the rules. I have spoken before about GWs tendency to overcompensate for ineffective units, and here is another example of where I think they have unfortunately taken it a bit too far again.
Not much has changed in terms of wargear or statline but remarkably bikers only cost just over 3/5 of what they used to. 20 points for a T5, fast moving model which unlike the C:SM versions also has a CCW.
They still have the option to take 2 special weapons per squad plus a combi on the champion to give you a fast moving, tough specialist tank hunter squad. Or you can go for a larger dedicated CC squad. The marks also come pretty cheap. A T6 biker still only costs 26 points (mark of nurgle) but I think the really good combos here are with mark of khorne (4 attacks on the charge + 1 hammer of wrath at I10) and slaanesh (1 I10 attack followed by 3 I5 attacks per model), eat your heart out mutilators.
Chaos Bikers have definitely seen a transformation this edition. I just worry that it may have been a bit too much of an improvement.
So from one joke to another. Did anyone ever pay for a spawn in the last edition? But like the chaos bikers it certainly seems their time to shine again. They got cheaper and faster (oddly moving from slow and purposeful to beast) in the new dex.
They still get d6 attacks in combat but now have a special random table for an extra buff (1 of either poisoned attacks, a 4+ save or 2d6 pick the highest for attacks), they also get rage which means 2d6 plus 2 attacks on the charge. You can now also take up to 5 in a unit rather than 3 which means they are more likely to actually make it into combat, add in the mark or nurgle for 6 points (the most expensive of the marks but still relatively cheap) means they cant be doubled out and will be immune to most small arms fire. Pretty nasty
Not much has changed here since their last outing. Slightly cheaper at 17 points but have been hit by the across the board leadership reduction to the chaos marines. They can take veterans of the long war for 2 points per model which increases their leadership and gives them hatred: space marines which I feel might be a good idea as raptors are primarily a close combat unit and a good amount of potential opposition are marines of some description. They can still take 2 specials weapons per squad (of up to 15) rather than 1 per 5 models plus a combi on the sergeant so it is possible to make a deep striking suicide unit.
If you’re going for a more CC orientated build all of the marks look reasonable value apart from tzeentch (slaanesh to get in first, khorne for the extra attacks and nurgle for the toughness). Overall raptors seem a decent choice, but I worry that a viable choice will be over shadowed in this all-star category.
Like the possessed, Warp Talons are a example of a good idea being let down by a slightly poor execution (in my opinion). A warp talon is basically a raptor who comes equipped with a pair of lightning claws, is a daemon and has the warpflame strike special rule basically meaning that any units within 6 of where it deepstrikes have to pass a initiative check of become WS and BS for the next turn.
30 points just seems a bit too much of a premium for what you get. A 5+ invul is all well and good but doesn’t help you against ap4+ weapons and even when you get a rocket to the face a 5+ save isn’t much to write home about. Lightning claws are nice but not much use if you die before you get into combat. And while the warpflame strike rule is a nice idea, it still depends on the unit failing an initiative test and only affects units within 6 inches and how many times will you be tempted to deepstrike to close and end up misshaping? There’s a potential nice combo with an icon but to me it just seems more hassle than it’s worth.
If I were to organise this review by the hype that units had generated, the heldrake would deserve a post all to itself. But what are you actually getting. 170 points for an armour 12 flyer with hover mode, 3 hull points and the it will not die special rule, so arguably the toughest flyer in the game.
It also has the meteoric descent special rule, meaning it has the ability to perform a st7 vector strike while zooming. Alot has been made of this as a potential anti flyer mechanism for the chaos codex, but I expect the effectiveness will depend on the type of flyer you are facing. Against AV10 or 11 D3 +1 st7 hits are pretty scary, but when you come to face the AV12 of storm ravens and valkyries it certainly isn’t a reliable way of dealing with them. Its also still worth remembering that it can use vector strike against ground targets and an average of 3 str7 AP3 hits on an MSU unit or vehicle is a nice tool to have in the locker.
The heldrake also comes standard with a hades autocannon, however it is only BS3. It will still average 2 st8 hits on whatever it is shooting. For me it is still more effective anti flyer shooting than flack missile havocs but I still get the feeling it will struggle against the heavier armoured flyers. The alternative is to swap out the autocannon for a baleflamer, a st6 ap3 torrent weapon, and to me it looks to be a good choice if you are willing to sacrifice a bit of anti flyer shooting, but its not an option that I like.
In terms of the enjoyability of the game, I worry that against certain armies it might leave one player with a sense of helplessness as the heldrake swoops onto the board up to 36 inches then places a flamer template up to 12 inches away from its base and burns a unit of marines (wounding on a 2+ with no armour save). Add this on to a 12 armoured flyer and it’s easy to see why I have already seen a list (on BoLs predictably) of an 1850 list running 3 of these.
Like every flyer it is going to enjoy a honey moon period while most other codices lack the ability to effectively deal with it, so a bit of restraint in using it may be appreciated in a casual environment or your opponent may come away from the game feeling a bit cheated.