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Analysis: Astra Militarum in 8th Ed, HQ Units

Let's analyse the HQ options available to Astra Militarum . Like all my reviews, this will be from a competitive play perspective, ...

Monday, 30 May 2016

Review: Astra Militarum in 7.5th Ed


By now we've all seen the draft FAQ and Death From the Skies, and started to get a feel for what "7.5th Ed" 40k is going to look like. Let's take a look at how the changes are going to affect one specific Faction close to my heart: the Astra Militarum.

Winners

HQ

Astropaths love the change to Psychic Shriek; auto-hitting with their Primaris Witchfire makes them 50% more points-efficient and gives Astra Militarum a decent countermeasure to Invisibility within their own Faction. You can still Shriek out of a Chimera's Fire Point. If you are building a Cadian Battle Group then you will probably have two or three Company Command Squads and therefore two or three opportunities for cheap Shrieks.

If you take Astropaths, Primaris Psykers or Wyrdvane Psykers for Daemonology powers then you can now summon the three new flavours of Bloodthirster, including the dreaded D-Thirster. If you summon any kind of Khorne daemons then you can declare them as being the Khorne Daemonkin version and start reaping Blood Tithe too.

Troops

Infantry Platoons with an allied Marine character with Jump Pack get a flat reroll to charge ranges. Rawr.

Fast Attack

Valkyries can fire both their Hellstrike Missiles in the same turn at full BS. Woohoo! They're still bad, take Vendettas or Vultures instead.

You can now base your models however you like. And flyers can park over other models as long as they physically fit. So go adjust the flight stand height of all your flyers so your tallest models can fit underneath them (probably Leman Russes) but Monsters, Knights and Wraithknights cannot. Now use your Vendettas and Vultures as un-assault-able mobile walls for all your squishies.

The new Air Superiority Detachment is the only way you should be fielding your Vendettas and Vultures, presuming you are taking a pair of either. Vendettas get Objective Secured when Hovering, which is just fantastic. If your opponent is not fielding flyers then you can -2 their Reserve rolls, which also stacks with the Officer of the Fleet's Intercept Reserves if you really want to keep Podders off the table.

Armoured Sentinels just became a cheap and easy way to tarpit any unit that doesn't punch at S6 or higher. Sure, those single Krak Grenades or Melta Bombs will grind through all their HP eventually, but it often only takes one turn of delay to throw a serious spanner into your opponent's strategy.

Heavy Support

Wyverns are even better at stacking blast markers, since Twin-Linked and Multiple Barrage now interact intuitively and you can reroll every single scatter (previously, you could only reroll the first by RAW).

You can use whatever version of a model's rules that suit you, so the strictly superior versions of the Chimera, Hydra and Manticore from Imperial Armour Volume II Second Edition will be coming out to play. Yes, I will take my Chimeras 10 pts cheaper with five Fire Points and a 5 pts Autocannon option. Yes, I will pay a mere 5 pts to make my Hydras ignore Jink. And oh yes, I will pay a whole 25 pts less to take my Manticores with a S9 AP2 7" Blast that I can now give Ignores Cover in an Artillery Company Formation.

Losers

HQ

Command Squad upgrades that used to project a 'bubble' buff from a transport vehicle, such as Regimental StandardKurov's Aquilla and Volkov's Cane now cease to function whilst the wielder is embarked. This changes Company Command Squads from force multipliers into boring old 'special weapons trucks', just like their 5th Ed incarnation. At least the old-school Chimeras are also back to bring all those special weapons to bear from the safety of a metal box—thank you Imperial Armour!

Primaris Pskyers and Wyrdvane Psykers can now only cast a single power per turn (upgrading a Primaris Psyker is not worth it). The old-new trick of using a Psykana Division Formation to feed Warp Charge to Wyrdvanes to cast Summoning still works to some extent, but daemon-farming loses a lot of its attraction if you can't also pop a Cursed Earth with spare dice.

Heavy Support

Leman Russ Executioners are now extinct; losing the Gets Hot reroll from Preferred Enemy makes an Executioner statistically likely to Glance itself to death every game without enemy intervention. This indirectly makes the Steel Host Formation strictly inferior to the Armoured Company, since +1BS and a 40 pts tax is always better than mostly worthless Preferred Enemy and a 70 pts tax.

The loophole that allowed Preferred Enemy to give all Blasts reroll to scatter has been closed. Another nail in the coffin for the Steel Host. Hello, Armoured Company!

Leman Russes with Dozer Blades no long Ram at S10. They are still S9, and this really isn't a big deal, but I thought I'd include it for completeness. And yeah, don't try to Tank Shock or Ram when driving on from Reserve...

Fortifications

The Void Shield Generator is still a decent choice for mechanised lists that can fit into the shield bubble in deployment (with nothing sticking out!) just to lessen the enemy alpha strike. However, no longer can you string your infantry out so one guy in the shield bubble makes the whole squad immune to small arms fire. Losing flat immunity to Grav really sucks.

Miscellaneous

Don't spend points on Krak Grenades; Melta Bombs for your Sergeants are a much better buy.

Culexus Assassins will no longer be hitching rides in your Vendettas.

Conclusion

Company Command Squads and Veteran Squads will be back to their old 5th Ed tricks—load them up with Plasma Guns in Chimeras and exploit your five Fire Points. Too bad this will cost all the flavour in the 6th Ed Codex; sorry Orders and Kurov's Aquilla, staying safe inside a metal box without losing firepower is going to trump tricks like Ignores Cover and Preferred Enemy most days. Those Command Squads will probably be packing Psychic Shriek too.

Keep an eye out for Manticores in Artillery Companies, since S9 AP2 Ignores Cover 7" Blasts can ruin anyone's day.

Expect to see more Vendettas or Vultures. Be sensible and use the Valkyrie stats from Death From the Skies until Forge World release their own FAQ.

The nerfing of Void Shield Generators hurts Astra a lot, but the end of using Drop Pods like Ubers will counterbalance this loss. Platoons and/or Conscripts for old-school bubble-wrapping your armour is likely to make a comeback.

Overall, I think Astra will do alright from the 7.5th Ed changes; Invisible deathstars and Grav-in-Pods used to really scare my Guardsmen, but things are looking a little brighter now.

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