Thursday, 24 March 2011

Grey Knights terminators– How to choose from all the new goodies. Part 1

Hi folks,
I thought it was high time I wrote an article and so have focussed on the upcoming GK release. As the power armoured troops in a GK list fulfil the more specialised roles, I wish to focus on the mainstay of a GK army – the terminators. Packed with a whole host of new goodies in the release, there seem to be many options to choose from and finding the right combo could be difficult. I plan to magnetise most of my army to tailor them for different battles, but with there being so many combos out there we first need to decide which work best for which situation. For this I will assume that the squad is a 5-man squad, seeing as that’s what I’ll mostly be running.
So, we can divide the options into 2 distinct sections: ranged and close combat weapons. I will deal with the CC weapons first, and for this will further subdivide them into weapons that keep you alive and weapons that kill stuff. Please note I am going on the leaked codex and rumours having not seen the dex in person yet so some assumptions may be wrong.
Ones that keep you alive.
Namely, the basic weapon loadout (nemesis force sword) and the nemesis warding stave. The former  is a force weapon striking at initiative 4 and strength 4, while upgrading your save in CC to 4++. The latter does pretty much the same, except your save is now 2++. Now, if you’re using your terminators effectively, you will have either screened them from fire (using cover or intervening models) or delivered them into combat via teleport or transport, meaning most of the low AP ranged fire will not have been too much of a problem for you. Even though many people show little fear with terminators, I’m always cautious as the chances of failing saving throws to things such as plasma and lascannons (I play Vs IG a lot) are still 2/3. Rounding that chance to ½ by using cover can make all the difference.
Same principle applies here in combat with the NFS – why settle for a 5+ IV save when a 4+ will greatly improve the odds. I personally would always go for 2 nemesis force swords in a 5-man squad, unless of course you are planning on taking on any big nasties or units with hidden power fists which you don’t expect to wipe out before they strike back. This is where the humble NWS comes in – being able to allocate at least one of those nasty wounds to a single terminator with a 2++ can make a huge difference, especially where you are expecting to go up against a mixed unit, say a SM assault squad + sergeant with LCs, where all the strikes will be at the same initiative step. Being able to allocate all those PW wounds against the 2++ could save you a model, and if you expect to be holding an objective through another couple of turns of fire then it could be valuable. Only downside to the NWS is that you pay extra points (20) for a very situational weapon.
Ones that inflict damage.
So here’s where I group the rest of the CC weapons, namely the halberd, hammer and falchions. I personally would stick to the same modus operandi I have with space marines, namely always equipping a hammer. In my experience, when you don’t take a power fist you almost always regret it, especially when you get charged by say a dreadnought and end up spending the next few turns unable to harm them as your squad gets gradually whittled down.  It’s a free upgrade and also, should you put it on your justicar, you can master craft it for 5 points – again, this could make a big difference when it comes to hitting or not hitting a tank, MC or anything else left alive at the end of a combat.
Now the last two I would say are an either/or combo. NFH for higher and equal intiative opponents and falchions for horde armies. The advantage of halberds is clear in that you get to strike first against any models up to i5 due to the +2 i bonus. At i6, this ceases to be quite as useful, but at least you get a couple of models striking concurrently. Meq armies will suffer at the hands of S5 (hammerhand) and i6 force weapons, as will the likes of banshees. Thus I’d recommend adding a couple in for free if you’re playing a Meq army or a majority initiative 4-5 army. Against hordes it may well be worth investing a few points (5 per model) in falchions for the extra attacks granted, but if you manage to get the charge, say against a mob of orks, then you’ll probably have enough attacks between shooting and CC to get the job done regardless.
Lastly, lets not forget one more thing that bolsters a GKT squads effectiveness in CC – Hammerhand! I would say that in most cases, using hammerhand outweighs the usefulness of force weapons, and as such would almost always opt to cast it. I will have to mathammer it Vs say nob bikers which have both the 2 wounds and the t5, but against targets such as large tyranid warrior squads the force weapon would be more effective in fairness. The S5 will make a huge difference against MEQ and ork units, improving your ½ chance to wound to 2/3. Also, as the modifier is applied before any others, your NDH is now s10! Perfect for insta-killing anything that’s t5 and also helping wound any big nasties. Let’s also not forget that it makes av14 penetration more feasible.
Speaking of psychic tests, there is one other piece of wargear to consider – the brotherhood banner. At 25 pts this is the most expensive upgrade for the squad and adds +1 attack to the squad and makes the psychic test for force weapons automatic. As I already mentioned, hammerhand will mostly benefit you rather than using the force weapons, and so the usefulness of this aspect it very situational. The +1 attacks would be great for a 10 man squad, but as we’re only considering 5 man here I’d have to say it’s not worth the points. Removing a NFW from one member of the squad leaves you with 3 less attacks on the charge. Spending 10 points on 2 sets of falcions adds 2 attacks, thus you’ve spent 15 pts less and still have the same number of attacks. Plus, when the casualties start to roll in the BHB becomes less effective. I’d personally leave this one at home. Nice sculpt tho.
So, that’s the end of part one. As a standard all comers loadout I’d recommend a 5 man squad with 1 NDH, 2 NFS and either 2 NFal of 2 NFH depending which army you are playing against, maybe substituting in a NWS for one of the swords. In truth a lot of the time 5 NFS will serve you well, but as some of the upgrades are free ones it’s always worth just considering tailoring your wargear – those decisions could be the difference between victory and defeat. In part 2 we will look at ranged weaponry options for the squads and tie up with the synergy between those and the CC options.

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