Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Space Wolf Tactics: Predator Tanks

Unit Name: Predator
Unit Type: Heavy support Unit. Unit consists of one model. Construction: Using the predator kit.

Unit Deployment: Obscured or in a formation of tanks.

Unit in play: Fire support tank
Unit is most effective against: Armour/light infantry.
General Discussion:
Space Wolves recount with pride the tale of Skarath. It is a saga about their flexibility, ingenuity and how they created the annihilator pattern. From long before those lost days the iron priests have dedicated themselves to ensuring that the great companies are armed with the best tanks to crush the enemy. Do these gun carriages offer something to a space Wolf Lord in 6th edition?

What does a predator do?
Predator tanks are a fire support platform, they give you the ability to lay out a large number of shots into troops or seriously damage armour. What is a predator doing in a space wolves list you might ask? While long fangs are an interesting and excellent choice to give you fire support there are a range of situations currently where having a tank can prove advantageous. Due to the increased levels of terrain that the rulebook has tried to shoehorn into the game, having a more mobile fire platform is quite a boon. Due to the new rules a tank can move 12” and still fire all of its weapons as snap shots. In a situation where you have no units in line of sight this can be problematic for long fangs but the tank can overcome it quite easily and still make a go of shooting. Since there is a lot more mandatory night fighting in the rules this creates a boon for any player who brings a tank to the knife fight. With a search light the tank can speed forward and make an attempt at shooting before illuminating a target. If you manage to put the light on the right target in the early game this can cripple an enemy army but this is far too situational to rely on.

What armaments work best?
A predator has limited loadout options but even these options could be made effective. The tank can be built as a destructor armed with an autocannon or an annihilator with twin-linked. Coupled with the turret there are two classes of sponsons to pick from the slug chucking heavy bolters or the armour melting lazcannons. From these builds there are two types of predators, the troop killer or the tank hunter. The tank hunter is generally armed with lazcannon sponsons while the troop kilter is loaded out with the bolters.  There is a third type that should never be seen, an annihilator armed with heavy bolter sponsons. The reason the third type is never spoken of is that it manages to make itself incapable of fulfilling any role.
Since tanks are light on the field bar a few land raidars or Imperial Guard tanks, the need for a tank hunter has severely diminished. What you might think a predator can provide is something to deal with those pesky 2+ armour saves, you would be very wrong. It can punch 3 laz rounds into a terminator squad and you will average 1.5 kills a turn, that drops off rapidly with storm shields or cover saves. The few units that have a 2+ save and don’t come with an invulnerable save aren’t expensive enough to justify the cost of a tank to kill an average of two per turn when it is quite likely the tank won’t last beyond turn two.
When it comes to using the slug throwing weapons, autocannon with heavy bolter sponsons, the preadator does well at chewing light armour. If you get the ability to target a vendetta’s rear arc you can strip off a hull point but beyond armour 10 the tank isn’t impressive. When it comes to chewing through troops the tank doesn’t hit throw out enough hits to justify its cost. Even if the dice come up perfect you can only kill a maximum of 8 models a turn, usually you’ll be much lower. Going up against a squad of space marines will see 1.3 kills per round a pathetic total.

The optional extras
The optional equipment for the tank is not amazing. Extra armour is a complete waste. A hunter killer missile is a poor weapons choice if you are moving it replaces one of your main weapons and if you are stationary you are not  A dozer blade is a superfluous addition as you will never be crashing your tank through terrain to get in close to the enemy. It’s not a Baal predator with flamers and a firestorm so you have your range to work with. Even a storm bolter is a poor investment as if you are getting a weapon destroyed result you have probably gotten another hit or two and are on the verge of the vehicle dying. Save the points there are better ways to spend them, in fact that should be the motto of the day when it comes to predators.

Are tanks even worth taking anymore?
The ability to glance a tank to death has completely undermined their position on the battlefield. Just like in the modern field of warfare the role of tanks is extinct due to portable heavy weapons. The ability to strip hull points off imperial tanks is scarily easy. Even bolter fire has a chance of taking down a predator if it can hit from the rear, this makes them very fragile. Since every unit shall be toting a plasma or melta weapon if they are available to it the chance of surviving a turn up close to enemy infantry is next to impossible.
While in 5th edition you would often have a tank lumbering around after taking numerous crew shaken results this edition leaves a tank able to fire in almost every situation. I don’t see there being many situations where a tank has suffered a penetrating roll without having first suffered a few glancing hits.

So what is a predator to a space wolf, or any other space marine for that matter? Unfortunately in the new edition it is not much. The meta-game has moved away from tanks like a leprous corpse, the tank simply cannot justify its cost and has no place in an army as things stand. Any tank with armour 10 anywhere on its hull is not going to last long in the battles of 6th edition and only av 14 or flyers will be touching the board in a GT list beyond a few guard armies. The number of outflanking units in the game has grown which leaves your flanks terribly weak. I would take the points that you would spend on a predator and use them to take the best heavy support option for the Space Wolves, Long Fangs. For the cost of a “decent” predator you could have a unit of heavy bolter long fangs which can pump out twice the hits and at two targets. Leave the tanks at home and just use men from now on.

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