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Monday, 9 October 2017

Analysis: Astra Militarum Regiment Mathhammer [Revised]

Now that most of the rules from the new Codex Astra Militarum have previewed/leaked online, it's time to start our proper Faction analysis. This will not be a straight regurgitation of the leaked rules, but instead a more analytical look at how the new Codex affects the Faction in competitive Matched Play. We'll start our analysis with Cadian versus Catachan mathhammer.


There are eight different Regiments in the new Codex, with each one having access to exactly the same units (unlike the FW rules for Krieg and Elysian) but exclusive access to a Doctrine, Order, Stratagem, Relic, and Warlord Trait. Some Regiments also have specific unique characters.

All the different Regiments are very playable—well done, GW—but Cadian and Catachan are clearly better than the rest from a competitive perspective. It is also particularly important to note that different Regiments are better for different units, and you can take different Regiments across multiple Detachments, so we need to start thinking in terms of "which Regiment keyword should I use for my infantry/armour/artillery Detachment" instead of "which Regiment is the best?".

I have already seen plenty of conjecture about the "power of Catachan artillery" and complaints that their Doctrine is not consistent with their canonical fluff, along with counter-arguments that GW were actually trying to encourage much fluffier flamer-spam. So let's settle this debate right now using some good old mathhammer.


Cadian has an extremely powerful static buff, providing all stationary units with reroll 1 to hit shooting, that can be improved to reroll all to hit shooting for Infantry using the ubiquitous Take Aim Order. The typical Cadian Detachment will be a static gunline, most likely with lots of infantry and artillery, and maybe some long-ranged Russes; short-ranged Russes, Hellhounds and mechanised infantry don't synergise as well with the Cadian doctrine, and neither does flamer-spam.

Cadian also has a new unique Tank Order that allows Russes to reroll the number of attacks shooting a 'blast' turret weapon.


The Catachan Doctrine is roughly equivalent to the Cadian Order; you can reroll a single D6 of the number of attacks shooting any variable-shot heavy weapon on a Catachan Vehicle. At first glance this seems much better, since it works on Russ hull/sponson weapons and all other vehicles; in counterpoint, only Russes may receive Tank Orders so other Catachan vehicles will typically miss out on rerolls to hit.

REVISION: Sergeant Harker is still in the Codex, providing a 6" buff of reroll 1 to hit shooting, for a bargain price of only 50 pts. He can hide in the midst of a Catachan artillery parking lot and effectively replicate the Cadian Doctrine.


Firstly, let's compare Basilisks, Manticores and Wyverns between the two Regiments. We assume that all artillery remains stationary:

REVISION: I have recalculated the impact of the Catachan Doctrine using better dice probability tools. Cadian Basilisks and Wyverns are better than their Catachan counterparts, but the addition of Harker (which Cadian cannot replicate) is a clear edge for Catachan, at the reasonable cost of 50 pts and an Elites slot.

Next, let's delve into the armour comparison whilst considering the effects of Orders and movement on Russes, fixed- versus variable-attacks turret weapons, and hull/sponson weapons:

REVISION: Updated math, but no change to comparison outcomes.

Catachan Battle Cannon Russes are slightly better than their Cadian counterparts, and would be more advantaged on-the-move. The Cadian Doctrine is replicated by a generic Tank Order, and the Catachan Doctrine is replicated by the Cadian Tank Order, therefore giving Orders to a Battle Cannon Russ of either Regiment has the same net result.

The Punisher Cannon Russ does not benefit from the Catachan Doctrine, so if it remains stationary to benefit from the Cadian Doctrine then it comes out ahead; if it moves (quite likely given its only 24" range) then both are equal. Tank Orders also make both Regiments equal when stationary; Tanks Orders make Catachan Punisher Cannon Russes slightly better on-the-move.

Cadian Heavy Bolters (and Lascannon and Multi-Meltas) are better when stationary, and Catachan Heavy Flamers are always better.


REVISION: Just take Catachan and Harker for vehicle Detachments; an artillery parking lot supported by Harker is strictly the best firepower that this codex can generate, and Flamer-Punishers and Hellhounds are amazing hunter-killers. Tank Commanders can now give themselves Tank Orders, so are effective self-buffers and reduce the Cadian edge associated with Pask. The Catachan Warlord Trait and Relic aren't relevant to Tank Commanders, but you should just be taking Grand Strategist and Kurov's Aquilla anyway.

Forget all the preview-week hype about "OMG Catachan Artillery Regimentz" and stick to Cadian if you want the roll out the big guns; true to the fluff, Catachan do much better by being aggressive with Heavy Flamers.

If you expect the enemy to come to you, then Cadian Punishers with Heavy Bolters are better than Catachan; and if you do have to chase them down, then Cadian is no worse than Catachan.

If you want to be very aggressive with Punishers and Hellhounds with Heavy Flamers then Catachan is a better option. Tank Orders make Catachan Punishers even better, but you really need Pask to issue Tank Orders efficiently, and he is of course is Cadian...

I think I will be switching my Punishers over to Heavy Bolters and using them defensively, since the new Codex rules for all Russes really discourages the aggressive tactics I had been employing with the Index rules. I'll probably just have to accept some reduced effectiveness of my Hellhounds, since I don't think it's worthwhile to field a Catachan Detachment just for Hellhounds—but the extra firepower in my artillery will well and truly compensate!


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