So much crying over the newest Gargantuan Creature on the block! But how hard really is it to kill a Wraithknight?
Ask yourself the question: "Can my army list reliably wreck three Wave Serpents?" If you answered "yes" then good news, you can kill a new Wraithknight! If you answered "no", then stop telling the internet how much you suck and go redesign your army list instead.
More Machine Now Than ManWe need to start by quantifying the difference between vehicle and non-vehicle units in the 40k ruleset. These were very different way back in 3rd and 4th Ed; however, the addition of vehicle saving throws in 5th Ed, Hull Points in 6th Ed, and the pseudo-removal of 'Explodes' from the damage chart in 7th Ed, has resulted in a fundamental convergence of damage mechanics for both vehicles and non-vehicles:
- A roll is made to contest a weapon's Strength value against a target's 'defence' value
- If successful, a saving throw may be taken
- If failed, 'wounds' are reduced by one (or more)
- If you get reduced to zero 'wounds' you die
Where is all this going? I want to highlight that the high Toughness of the Wraithknight is not actually as intimidating as it must seem to so many fearful players.
Lost in TranslationNext we need to establish the relationship between vehicles and non-vehicles so we can translate the characteristics of one into the other to enable an 'apples with apples' comparison.
Wounds and HP are obviously equivalent; get reduced to zero of either and you die. But while most non-vehicles have only a single Wound, the standard for vehicles is 3 HP, making them far more resilient in general—but note that there is very little variance in HP amongst the wide variety of vehicles in 40k.
Toughness and AV is a little harder to translate, but they are in fact linearly related. The simple formula for conversion is:
T + 4 = AVDon't believe me? Let's step through a few example conversions to establish the proof.
T6 = AV10We'll start at the minimum AV value for vehicles, and the typical minimum T value for Monsters (although some are only T5). How do we successfully wound or glance/penetrate such a target?
- S3 wounds T6 on 6 / cannot affect AV10
- S4 wounds T6 on 6 / glances AV10 on 6
- S5 wounds T6 on 5+ / glances AV10 on 5+
- S6 wounds T6 on 4+ / glances AV10 on 4+
- S7 wounds T6 on 3+ / glances AV10 on 3+
- S8 wounds T6 on 2+ / glances AV10 on 2+
- S9+ wounds T6 on 2+ / auto-glances AV10
T10 = AV14I'm quite sure that nothing [currently] in the game has T10, but there are certainly quite a few AV14 vehicles around—and even a single AV15 Fortification—at this time:
- S7 wounds T10 on 6 / cannot affect AV14
- S8 wounds T10 on 6 / glances AV14 on 6
- S9 wounds T10 on 5+ / glances AV14 on 5+
- S10 wounds T10 on 4+ / glances AV14 on 4+
Portrait of a WraithknightTry to put aside that scary-looking T8 / W6 / Sv3+ stat-line for now and consider what a Wraithknight would look like if it instead followed the rules for vehicles. Using the principles outlined above, we could model a Wraithknight as an AV12 HP6 vehicle with a 3+ save.
Now hopefully AV12 HP6 doesn't seem anywhere near as scary to you—if it does, you are simply not qualified to objectively assess the strength of new codexes, so stop crying on the internet and go improve your game.
A single, hypothetical AV12 HP6 vehicle is very much like two typical AV12 vehicles. You can kill two AV12 vehicles, right? Of course, this AV12 HP6 vehicle happens to have a 3+ save; but there are already real AV12 vehicles with a 3+ save in the game—Wave Serpents. And every other Eldar tank that never gets fielded because everyone just spams Serpents instead. But anyway, the Serpent is an AV12 HP3 vehicle that has a 3+ save, and Serpents die all the time. The Wraithknight is just two Serpents, so what's the big deal? Why does it seem so scary to so many?
And it gets better: the 3+ save of this hypothetical AV12 HP6 vehicle is an armour save, so if you're packing AP3 or better then killing this guy just got a whole lot easier!
However, there is a little more to this story, since the Wraithknight is no longer just a Monster, it is soon to be reborn a Gargantuan. Most significantly, this means it gets Feel No Pain by default. That extra 5+ save is something that cannot be directly translated to the vehicle rules, but we can abstract it by increasing the vehicle-Wraithknight's HP by 50% to 9. Think about it like this: if 33% of unsaved HP loss it blocked by FNP, then you need to do 9HP of damage to wreck the 6HP vehicle-Wraithknight.
And that leads to my hypothesis: one new Wraithknight can be defensively abstracted into three current Wave Serpents (or Falcons, Fire Prisms, Night Spinners, etc.)
And if you can kill three Serpents, you can kill one Wraithknight!
But yet again, it gets better, because there are ways to get around that FNP save, notably D weapons and weapons with Instant Death built-in (e.g. Force Weapons). Remember, even though Gargantuans don't get one-shotted by Instant Death, it still bypasses their FNP (and inflicts D3 Wounds).
And to ice the cake, look back at my comparison between T and AV, and you may notice one more critical detail: a S5 weapon can hurt a T8 target on a 6, even though it cannot hurt an AV12 target at all. While I'm not expecting Adepta Sororitas and their Rending Heavy Bolters to become an overnight counter-meta choice, stranger things have certainly happened in this wonderful game...
Finally, for all those crying that Poison and Sniper only affect Gargantuans on a 6, remember that Poison and Sniper does absolutely sweet-fuck-all to AV12 anyway, so you're still out ahead.
ConclusionIn a metagame already full of Imperial Knights and non-Gargantuan Wraithknights, you're mad not to include meltaguns (or something else that fills that role) in your army lists. Big, powerful, single models are already a thing! The evolution of the Wraithknight into a Gargantuan changes nothing!
In fact, the only army likely to suffer from this change are Dark Eldar; and they can easily adapt to rebalance their distribution of Poison and Lances to compensate.
So everyone, please, calm the fuck down. You can still kill Wraithknights.