Thursday, May 27, 2010

Playing Dark Angels: The Dreadnought

Space marines on the battlefield are a lot like one-man armies. They have a tool for almost every job, and are pretty good at applying that tool to the appropriate situation. They're durable and hard to take down. Occasionally a foe will get lucky or prove to have just enough skill to take a marine down for good. If that marine was one of the most honored members of the chapter, he can be brought back from the brink of death and serve his chapter as a true machine of death, impervious to almost all forms of attack.

Of course, here I am referring to the dreadnought, the armoed walker that wrecks havoc on the opponent's mainline troop units. These little gems are quite amazing the Codex: Dark Angels, and you're about to learn why.

Lesson 1: The Smoke
As mentioned in my previous article, the DA Dreadnought has access to the awesome smoke launcher. This tidbit of awesome will be able to keep the Dreadnought performing against enemies that other chapters' Dreadnoughts will simply crumble under. 2 penetrating melta hits on another army will probably destroy their dreadnought, but will most likely only slow ours down. There is still a chance that the AP1 glance can take us out, but that brings us to our next lesson.

Lesson 2: Venerable Status
For Dark Angels, the Venerable Dreadnought holds a significant place in the chapter and in the army list. Our friendly Venerable Dreadnought is an honored member of the first company, able to withstand blows that even other DA Dreadnoughts would succumb to. The Venerable upgrade we receive is much better than the similar special rule granted to the newer Ven Dreads fielded by other chapters for two primary reasons.

First, is the incredible synergy it has with our favorite vehicle wargear: the Smoke Launcher. Being able to reroll a "glancing 6" from an AP1 weapon makes for some extreme durability, multiplying the survivability against such hits by 6.

Second is the cost we pay for this Venerable Dreadnought. In the newer codices, this option is no longer an upgrade but a separate unit, with an inflated statline. We have the benefit of not having to pay a premium for what is usually wasted modifiers. Instead, we can field a more durable unit for less points. In fact, the common loadout I give for my venerable dreadnought matches the default points cost of the newer codices after all upgrades have been purchased. This DA Ven Dread includes a Heavy Flamer and Extra Armor (and typically a plasma cannon or multi-melta).

Lesson 3: It's Elite
In modern armies, and even so for Codex: Dark Angels, the units providing the heavy lifting for the army typicaly come from the elite choices. For Dark Angels, we have the means to take our most-used and most-effective elites choice and field it in a troops slot, thus freeing up spots to field even more elite units. This force organization swap-up is considered second nature to us by now, but most people don't take the time to consider exactly how awesome this combination is. For a similar tactic, it's like using a Master of the Forge to field 3 Dreads in the Space marines codex so that you can still field 3 squads of termiantors and/or sternguard.

Lesson 4: Extra Armor
The typical Ven Dread almost always fields a DCCW. The unit serves multiple roles in a list, including fire magnet and counter-assault. Extra Armor plays into both these roles by keeping the Dreadnought on the moe and at full fighting capacity (in close combat). Combined with the venerable special rule and the fact that the vast majority close combat attacks will glance or be unable to wound entireley, and you have a unit capable of tying up a much deadlier squad until you can bring appropriate measures into dealing with it later, all the while pulling about a single model out of the combat each full turn and being immune to negative leadership penalties in close combat.

These 4 basic principles combine into a unit that is quite possibly the best all-around support unit in the game. Not every dreadnought should run all the upgrades, but if points permit it should be a serious consideration. The semi-durable armor 12 chassis and mobile walker-specific rules allow this unit to be useful in almost every phase of the game.

In addition to its counter-assault prowess, the dreadnought is capable of firing two weapons each turn. For many reasons, this becomes the weapons-support platform of choice when working with Deathwing. Without a doubt, the support fire from a single dreadnought matches that of the typical Godhammer land raider on the move, for less points and almost identical survivability at range.

Gearing up for fire support limits the counter-assault capabilities drastically, but provides a mobile long-range firebase capable of using terrain for cover more easily than any other vehicle in the game (and without the threat of immobilizing itself in said terrain) The trick with this dreadnought is to pick the weaponry that will best compliment the rest of your forces, frequently taking elements that are expensive or hard to find in other choices in the codex, especially with any form of staying power.

Now while the Dreadnought is indeed an awesome war machine, one shouldn't expect this unit to perform well unsupported or in the wrong list. because of its effectiveness, the opponent will need to expend a decent chunk of resources at taking it out of the fight (be that stunning, immobilizing, or focusing to oblivion). A list utilizing these mechanized beasts will need to provide proper armor saturation with units that also provide a similar or more immediate threat. This serves to keep each vehicle around long by splitting enemy fire and provides an opportunity for either one to do its job while the other is being silenced.

The idea is that by properly using your smoke and keeping the threat with all the armor in tact, they will survive to wreck havoc in the late game. Your other units will be able to perform their jobs and slowly whittle down the opponents defenses, allowing you the opportunity to strike. If you haven't figured out my position by now it is this: Dark Angels work by outlasting the enemy. Between smoke and the apothecary, they ahve the most durable force in 40k to not include Feel No Pain. The next article will go over the last major piece of the survivability puzzle: the 4th Edition Apothecary.

1 comment:

  1. While my Termies field AC or Cyclones, the Dreads have multi-meltas.

    <3 Dreads.



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