Monday, November 30, 2020

Imperial Armour Compendium Critical Review: Part 3- Astra Militarum

 A Continuation of our 11 part review of the Imperial Armour Compendium. This time we are diving into the Astra Militarum portion of the book.

I am really trying to not be salty in this, and I am going to be as factual as possible but maintain a critical eye, the intent of which is to inform you and maybe, just maybe, let GW know we notice and care about this stuff. The details matter in an expensive hobby like this, and if it takes a small time blog to hold them accountable then so be it.

This review will be an in depth 11 part series, and I will update and link each successive article below, so keep checking back for updates.

  • Part 1- Book Overview
  • Part 2- Space Marines
  • Part 3- Astra Militarum
  • Part 4- Grey Knights, Inqusition, Adeptus Mechanicus, Adeptus Custodes
  • Part 5- Imperial Knights, Titan Legions, Chaos Knights and Chaos Titan Legions
  • Part 6- Chaos Space Marines, Death Guard, and Chaos Daemons
  • Part 7- Craftworlds and Drukhari
  • Part 8- Necrons and Orks
  • Part 9- T'au Empire and Tyranids
  • Part 10- Death Korps of Krieg Focused Discussion
  • Part 11- Forgeworld Warhammer Legends
So since part 10 is Death Korps, I am skipping them for now

Lets kick off with Tanks. Loosing the Leman Russ Annihilator is big and non-sensical IMO. The hope would be it moves into the next codex, but seeing as the Leman Russ kit is relatively new, and GW is really big now about only supporting rules with models, I have a big feeling we will not see a new LR with a twin lascannon option to support a codex Annihilator. While rules wise the conqueror may not be missed, it really was a fanatic favorite, as who didn't love the Conquerors in Guant's Ghosts "Honour Guard". The Stygies vanquisher rolling up into the normal one makes sense. Gryphonne turrets long OOP were better anyways. Same for the Artermia hellhound. I'll still likely buy that version as it just looks better.
  1. Carnodon Tank- 2 point increase with its new base wargear. Rules were not in the previous index, but were available here. Why did this stay in 40k if the Stormhammer went to legends and the Aurox didn't come over? Really scratching my head on this one. Maybe because they removed the LR Annihilator and realized there is a place for a Lascannon heavy Guard battle tank? I'm just at a loss. It got some interesting Stat line changes- Gained 2W and a point of WS and S. Also M degrades less going from a 12/8/4 to a 12/9/6. Also its explosions went from 6" to D6". For some reason all its twin weapons are Carnodon specific. Advantage- they show the profile. Disadvantage- that a whole separate line in future Chapter Approved points updates and any stat changes have to be called out specifically. Gets even weirder when you consider the sponson weapons and just single versions of all the turret weapons, but have no stats shown and would be subject to codex updates/changes, leading to a potential mismatch of profiles and points. Tons of blank space on the page that could have been filled with those weapon stats though...
  2. Malcadors- Defender, Annihilator and Battle Tank- Annihilator down 75 points,  Defender down 65 points, Malcador down 60 points, but WHY DID GW FAQ THEIR GRIDING ADVANCE AT THE START OF 9TH TO WORK LIKE A LEMAN RUSS AND THEN TAKE IT AWAY IN THE IMPERIAL ARMOUR!!! I at least got to use one for 3 games with it double tapping. They went from FINALLY BEING USABLE TO BEING GARBAGE TIER AGAIN All of them are missing their heavy stubber sponson options and lost a point of LD. Explosions went from 2d6" to d6". For some reason the Annihilator has a Malcador Twin Lascannon but the normal Malc doesn't have its own battle cannon. No weapon stats shown for anything other than that twin las. Defender may have some play since it has 7 heavy bolters and those are really good now, but honestly, just a heavy weapons platoon. 18 W vehicles are now just a huge liability in 9th and can ALWAYS be seen. 
  3. Malcador Infernus- 75 point reduction. This is separated because it didn't have grinding advance before, and its Inferno Cannon actually got a nice improvement. Went up from 2d6 shots to 3d6 and gained 2" of range. It did lose its cool chemical weapon shooting profile unfortunately, but those extra d6 shots should help off set that and still allow you to wreck non-vehicles. Really it just lost effectiveness against monsters and high T infantry like Death Guard and Custodes. Only one of the Malcadors to keep its heavy stubbers, which I don't get why the got that detail right here and not on the others. Just more of the bad editing and general lack of effort I feel went into this book. Explosion went from 2d6" to d6", which is oddly not consistent with a Hellhound even. Lost some good flavor with its chemical fire and big explosion, but may find play at its reduced cost. Still though, its an 18W vehicle and you can get 2 Hellhounds for less points. 
  4. Valdor Tank Hunter- 65 point reduction. Big Nerfs. Range cut on the nuetron laser from 72 to 48. Heavy 2D3 to Heavy 3, lost a point of AP and 2 points of S down to S12. Only plus is now if stationary its damage is 6 instead of D6, but I would rather have 2d3 shots D6 damage personally. It also lost its cool ability that if a target was damaged by a neutron laser, it was then -1 to hit in its next shooting phase. Lost a TON of flavor with its explode going from a 2+ to a 6+. For some reason it got to keep steel behemoth with the other Malcador hulls lost grinding advance. Sure it went down in points, but it was overpriced before, so with the nerfs its pretty lame IMO. And at 20 W it also is always seen.
  5. Thunderers- 35 point reduction. These are my favorite Guard Tanks from a model/lore perspective. But they have been treated SOOOOO poorly for 2 editions now. They used to trade off the greater firepower and fire arcs of a Leman Russ for more speed and toughness. And once more WHY DID GW FAQ THEIR GRIDING ADVANCE AT THE START OF 9TH TO WORK LIKE A LEMAN RUSS AND THEN TAKE IT AWAY IN THE IMPERIAL ARMOUR!!! These are basically useless since the Leman Russ Demolisher exists. At 30 points more, its just worth it to have grinding advance. I'd rather the Thunderer cost more and have kept the Grinding.

Artillery is one of the few areas that saw okay treatment IMO, with the stuff not on tracks fairing better than their tracked equivalents. If you've wanted to do an artillery regiment as an army in the past, I'm not saying this is the best time to do it, but there have definitely been worse times. Of note though the batteries are gone and only the carriages remain, which sadly means things like the Hydra Battery (not really artillery) and the Medusa Battery are things of legends now. I would not begrudge someone using the Earthshaker battery as a carriage though. 
  1. Armageddon Pattern Basilisks and Medusas- 5 points increase and decrease respectively. Seems weird with all the other low effort design decisions like making Mars Alpha Russes normal Russes, that these didn't just become Normal Basilisks and Medusas. Its not like open topped is something like it used to be. Both lost a W compared to their last versions, but now match the codex for the Basilisk. None of the wargear is shown for either other than the Medusa Siege Cannon. 
  2. Colossus Bombards- 5 point reduction. Gun went from 2d6 to 3D3, so an average of 1 less shot a turn, but a less swingy average and only a minimum of 3 shots now instead of 2, at the loss of a potential 12 shots. Really not much to see here. Most consistent performance, but less opportunity for truly devastating performance, same price essentially
  3. Earthshaker and Medusa Carriages- No change in cost for the Earthshaker, 10 point increase for the Medusa. The Crew as rolled into the stat line with Attacks and Weapons skill, but that means there are less wounds overall BUT you can no longer just kill the crew to kill the gun. Also lost a point of T and S. They also no longer explode. If you do play Krieg, these probably get the most benefit of any vehicle. Only wargear for the Medusa is shown again.
  4. Heavy Quad Launcher and Heavy Mortar- 20 and 10 point decreases respectively. Just like the Carriages, the crew has been rolled up into the stat line. Lost T and S as a result, no increase in W. Both lost Explode as well. No other changes for the Quad Launcher, but the Mortar went from D3 to a flat 2 damage. If you like artillery, probably still worth looking into, especially quad mortars. 
Support Vehicles. Not much to say on these things really. Everything OOP is gone, like Taurus and Atlas. No surprise there, but I really wish some of these things would come back. 
  1. Cyclops Demolition Vehicle- 10 point decrease and moved from Elites to Heavy Support, which is already crowded in the Guard line, so a bummer there. Loss of 3 LD. Its exlposion for being destroyed went from a 3+ to a 5+ which is sad.
  2. Rapier Laser Destroyer Battery- 15 point decrease. Just like the artillery pieces, crew have been rolled up into the unit. Unlike the artillery, it gained a W as a result. Oddly, the old Index has a Space Marine stat line for the Guardsmen Crew, which I assume got FAQ'd later on. Gained an inch of movement. The laser destroyer stats match the changes in Space Marines. Weapon went from Heavy 1 to Heavy 3, lost 2 points of S but went to D3+3 damages from D6, so much better on average, but lost its rules for causing extra damage which were quite neat. What I am really wondering about though is why is this still in the Guard when other models went to legends. On Forge World, this was only ever made for the Space Marines and for Solar Auxilia. And now, only the one with Space Marine crew is still around. Soooo yeah. Awkward. 
  3. Trojan Support Vehicle- 35 point decrease but WOW this got bad. Went from being a must take if you had a Super Heavy to a why bother at all. Gone are its abilities to reroll, and now you get to reload 1 shot weapons... which is almost exclusively Hunter Killer Missiles. If you run Manticores or Deathstrikes it may pay for its points. And the idea of firing a Deathstrike twice is funny. I also now heals 1 wound for a vehicle within 3", but you should just get a techpriest instead. It did gain the ability to transport 6 models as well. Best use I see is using it in apocalypse/mega battles to move around a command squad or techpriest and reload your big missiles. 
  4. Hades Breaching Drill- 15 point increase. Lost a point of WS, gained a point of S. Now completely separated from Veterans and finally made able to be run with Krieg Engineers unlike all of 8th edition. As a result it moved from Elites to Dedicated transport. The Drill got a lot deadlier, moving flat 3 damage and flat 6 against vehicles from D3 and D6. Makes sense because getting hit by a drill should chew up anything. Speaking of which, thank goodness it kept its 4+ invuln in melee, representing peoples general unwillingness to punch a whirling drill of doom. It no longer does 2D6 damage to buildings, but it does automatically hit them. Not sure what to think about that, but how often are you attacking buildings? It didn't explode before, but now it does. In general, I think this unit majorly improved. Odd that so many things with point reductions are generally less playable now, and something with a point increase became more playable. 
  5. Tarantula Battery- 10 points cheaper (HB and Lascannon versions). Went from heavy support to fortifications, which stinks, but fortunately you get CP back if they are the same faction as your Warlord. Lost 3 points of LD which doesn't makes sense IMO. Its a machine. Not sure how relevant it will be, but I am sure it will matter for some psychic powers. No longer can take assault cannons or multi-meltas (except as legends wargear). Still has to shoot the closest unit, but its simplified how you determine that IMO.
Super Heavy Tanks. These didn't fare as badly as the Space Marine ones with no martial legacy to plague them and they all kept Steel Behemoth, but you have to go to the codex to read the rule. The problem is they are still major investments points wise AND have to be taken in a Super Heavy Detachment, meaning they still cost CP. Really Guard need the same rules as knights where you get that CP back if they have the same keyword as your warlord. Overall, the CP cost of these things just really makes the major points decreases feel inconsequential. 

The Arkurian patterns are gone (except Stormblade), including the Stormhammer for some reason. It is still made so IDK. Also the Gorgon heavy transport! There was so much outcry for this to come back into production... Why pull its rules? I feel like someone just wanted to spit in the face of the fans, like they feel like we dictated company policy and they needed vengance for it. IDK. Also, the Dominus Siege bombard is gone. Why it was there to begin with IDK since it only ever had a model for Epic. 
  1. Marcharius Variants- 100 point decrease for Macharius, 110 for vanquisher, 85 for vulcan. Lost the Omega variant, no suprise there. Lost a point of WS and S, but gained attacks from 3/D3/1 to 6/D6/D3. They also now degrade at 12 wounds instead of 10, so worse there too. The Vanquisher cannon lost its blast shells profile but its AP profile improved majorly, going to S16, AP-4 and flat 9 damage from S9/AP-3/roll 2d6 pick one damage. It also adds 1 to hit vs vehicles and monsters. The Vulcan got the nerf bat hard, gaining 1 shot at the cost of loosing double tap if stationary... oof. Out of the 3, maybe the vanquisher has a place still. But it still suffers from the same things Guard superheavies have suffered from for an entire edition. 
  2. Preator- 30 point decrease. Basically you get your heavy bolters free. Yay. Lost a point of WS and S, but gained attacks from 3/D3/1 to 6/D6/D3. Now degrades at 10W instead of 9. Lost its Pilum shooting profile for shooting units with Fly. BUT Both the Foehammer and Firestorm can now shoot without LoS. The Foehammer gained a point of S and the Firestorm gained D6 shots up to 3D6. Overall a win, so if you can justify the CP, this guy isn't so bad. But at 20W hard to hide. 
  3. Crassus- 20 point decrease. Lost a point of WS and S, but gained attacks from 3/D3/1 to 6/D6/D3. Now degrades at 10W instead of 9. Lost its overdrive ability allowing it to advance and fire. Funny story, the Gorgon in legends at first didn't have tansport, and then when they "fixed" it, they just copy pasted from the Crassus, not bumping up the 35 capacity to 50. But as far as the actual Crassus goes... really not worth the 3CP IMO for it being a LoW. 
  4. Minotaur- 50 point decrease. Lost a point of WS and S, but gained attacks from 3/D3/1 to 6/D6/D3. Now degrades at 12W instead of 10. The Twin Earthshaker is now 2d3+3, which is nice with Blast. BUT it lost its built in 5+ invuln save, which is really something all Guard Superheavies really needed. Instead AP -1 is now AP 0. Would have been okay if it reduced all AP by one, but melta and lascannons will still wreck it with their high AP. Old minotaur had 2 heavy bolters on its datasheet, but they were never on the model, so makes sense. IMO just get earthshaker carriages. You can get 3 for the price of one of these, at no cost to CP and with more wounds and shots. 
  5. Stormblade- 70 points cheaper. My second favorite guard tank. Lost a point of WS and 2 points of S. Attacks down from 9/6/3 to 6/D6/D3. Plasma blastgun stats went up 1 point of S, AP and Damage for both profiles but the Supercharge now does 3 mortals when it overheats instead of 1. SO I would skip supercharge without some sort of ability to reroll hits (alas the Trojan). But the standard shot is better than old supercharge, so no great loss. But no one really used it before, it really needed big gains and we didn't see them. For some reason, they called its twin heavy bolter a "stormblade twin heavy bolter" which goes back to future revision control issues mentioned with the Carnodon Tank. Just like the Baneblade and Shadowsword and ilk, really suffers from being a huge fire magnet that is now even harder to hide, costs CP to take, and now has less ways to improve its shooting with the loss of the trojan. You won't see this outside of the largest of 40k games. 
Flyers. You have to go to the codex to read the rules for Airborne, Supersonic, Hover Jet, and Hard to Hit. Alas the noble aquilla lander is no more, as fabled as its crashed terrain piece from the old Battle for Macragge set. Otherwise, the flyers are generally meh. Too easy to kill and don't deliver enough bang for their buck. But they can be fun, and used wisely can score some secondaries. But there is a reason you see so few of them in use right now. And the IA compendium didn't give them the help they needed. 
  1. Avenger Strike Fighter- Down 45 points. Lost a point S and T, now has degrading Attacks, degrades 1 wound earlier but is 5" faster as it degrades, and it lost a point of BS (but vehicles no longer have the penalty for moving and shooting heavy weapons). Avenger bolt cannon feels a lot more boltier now though, gaining 2 shots and becoming 2D. It did however loose all of its options, and it can not even take a Hellstrike Rack, which I feel should be FAQd to allow. 
  2. Voss Pattern Lightning- 90 point decrease sort of. This is a weird one, because you used to have to use the rules for the old lightning, which wasn't really a one for one swap with the Voss pattern as the Voss pattern did not have the long barreled autocannon, but it was made for 30k primarily. Same stat line changes as the Avenger above. Lost options for Tactical bombs, Skystrike and Hellfury missiles, now only can take a Hellstrike Rack, which is a better weapon than the Hellstrikes becoming heavy 2 and no one use only, and instead of 2D6 pick the highest for damage, its now D6+2. It would have been nice to have the skystrike still at least. Not bad for its new cost, but flyers are just so easy to kill right now. Take it if you really like planes. But thats about it. 
  3. Arvus Lighter- 30 point reduction. This funny little thing lost a point of S and lost its options to take any weapons so now it is just a flying box. Also lost its repair ability and its ability to squadron. Without a squadroning ability I think it should have been moved to Dedicated Transport. IMO the funniest thing to do with it is transport 2 cyclops demo vehicles. 
  4. Thunderbolt- 15 point reduction. For some reason, like the carnodon, all of its weapons are now Thunderbolt specific. It lost a point of S and BS and it now has degrading attacks just like the Lightning, but it is 5" faster as it degrades now, but it starts degrading 1 wound earlier too. Same changes for options as the lightning, including the hellstrike rack. It also lost its repair ability. 
  5. Vulture Gunship- Up 20 points for its base loadout, but everyone takes punishers, which is down 20 points. This thing should be made in plastic already. Lost a point of S and its attacks now degrade. Lost its options for multilasers, auto cannons, lascannons, hellfury missiles, skystrike missiles and bombs. Picked up the Hellstrike rack with the rest of the flyers above. But as I said, who runs it with anything but the Gatlings. Probably one of the few flyers you will still commonly see, and half that time probably in Genestealer Cult armies.
  6. Vendetta Gunship- 50 point reduction. The Valkyrie kit should just be upgraded to include a lascannon sprue and this rolled into the codex. Same stat changes as the Vulture. Now has the hellstrike rack as an option. IDK if this is really worth it over Valkyries, but 3 twin las is never something to laugh at.
Super Heavy Flyers. Not alot to talk about here. They cost CP because of super heavy deatchments and in general are too easy to kill IMO and too many points for what they do. They also changed the bomb mechanics on these guys which I discuss below. 
  1. Marauder Bomber- Down 10 points. Its attacks degrade now, but it is 5" faster as it degrades. Degrades to its final bracket at 5 wounds remaining now instead of 4. Once again, for some reason its twin heavy bolters and lascannons are listed as Marauder specific.  Can only drop heavy bombs twice now instead of three times and they changed. Now you subtract 1 for characters to hit and then roll 1 dice. on a 4-5 the target suffers D3 mortals. On a 6 it is D6 mortals. Before it was 1 mortal for every 4+ and you rolled 3d6 for a vehicle/monster and 1d6 up to 12 for every model in a unit. So this feels better for attacking vehicles, but worse for attacks mobs, which I'm pretty sure is what unguided bombs should be better at. Hellstorm is now the Inferno Bomb, and instead of doing Mortals on a 3+ for up to 10 models, it is a 4+ for D3 mortals on the unit. It also is worded very poorly as it is "subtract 1 to hit if the model is a non-vehicle or non-monster character unit". So im not sure is the CHARACTER part applies to both. I'm also confused at why it used to be trash at vehicles and monsters as a hellstorm, but is now nerfed to hit against non-vehicle and monster units. I think they just screwed this one up. 
  2. Marauder Destroyer- 10 point increase. Same stat changes as the Marauder. Same changes to heavy bombs. Also lists all its weapons as marauder specific. Went from having 8 hellstrike missiles as an option to having 1 hellstrike rack, which is the same as the fighters. Really think it should have the option of buying 2 hellstrike racks to represent the double capacity. 
Well that is the Astra Militarum stuff. Atillery did okay, flyers did too but they weren't hot before and this did nothing to change that. Some things were super nerfed (Trojans, Malcadors, Thunderers) while other things are finally fixed (Hades Drill). In general, in terms of in game viability, I feel everything either stayed the same or got worse. Guard super heavies still have no place in 9th and that's just a real shame, especially since I feel that is really where FW should shine in the 40k rules.