Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Chaplains in 6th Ed?

Chaplains have always been both a useful and iconic unit in any standard Space Marine Codex army. Being one of only two none named character HQ choices to come with a power weapon in their base points. But with the arrival of 6th Edition and the changes to close combat weaponry, amongst other things, are they still worth fielding? I will try to address this question with my own experience and see where we end up....

I have always loved the Chaplain, and it was almost a given that I would take at least one in any of my armies right through 5th Ed. But since 6th Ed made its appearance I am finding that I use them less and less.

I, like everyone, started with a 5th Ed list that slowly evolved as I played 6th. I learnt what did and did not work, and changed my list accordingly to bring it up to speed. Of course I have always kept my list fluff filled, but even with that it is a completely different beast now. Changing from an even mix of infantry and mechanised units to what is now a drop pod and teleport army. If it can't start in reserve regardless, I ain't taking it!
So how does the Chaplain fit in with these new lists? Lets take a look at the three main load outs for Chaplains that I take, and that I know have been popular and common place in other peoples lists, and attempt to answer this.

First off, the standard Chaplain as is for his base points.
This guy gets a lot for his 100 points. A power weapon, all be it now an AP4 one, fearless which is conferred to the unit he joins and the 'Liturgies of Battle' which is always nice.
This was my stock choice in 5th Ed when I need a HQ choice but didn't have, or didn't want to spend, a lot of points on one. But now in 6th I find he isn't worth it all that much. Sure you still get the benefits of fearless (which is now better due to no negatives) but with the 10Ld of most Marine commanders you don't really need this, and it can leave you tactically disadvantaged in many circumstances. Also, put this guy in a challenge with most commanders out there, or a half decent squad leader for that matter, and he will no loose more often than not. With a weapon that can't get through 3+ armour and not the best stat load out for a HQ choice you will often find that you opponent has killed your commander and gained them selves a tasty victory point before you really know whats happening.
For me this guy doesn't really fit in my lists anymore. I take him in larger points games to complete the 2nd company for minimum points, but I don't rely on him to be the Warlord and try and avoid challenges.

Basically, not a terrible choice, but a secondary HQ unit at best, not a primary.

Now what about if we strap a jump pack on his back and attach him to an assault squad?
A better option? I would say so yes. Whilst I don't use this load out except in Apoc games at present as Assault Marines prevent me from taking a null deployment list, I have used him in 6th Ed before my army got to this stage. And whilst the negatives above still apply to the guy, and I wouldn't advise taking him as a primary HQ choice, his ability to make a squad of Vanguard Vets or Assault Marines hit extra hard on the charge can never be denied. Its no less potent in 6th as it was in 5th.

Re-rolling failed to hit rolls on the turn they charge is mega, this has been the difference between wiping a squad out and being bogged down in combat many times for me. If you have the points available and want to bolster a jump pack squad in some way, this is your guy. Just be mindful of the issues mentioned earlier and try to work around them.

Now, what can we do to shunt the Chaplain back up to being a primary HQ option? How can we go back to the way it was in 5th and get him as cheap and cheerful model to fill the compulsory HQ slot?
Simple, give him some terminator armour to wear!
With the changes to close combat weapons meaning much less can get through the 2+ save this armour offers this guy can really go the distance.
Stick him in a challenge with all but the most powerful commanders and you can survive, sure you can't always get through their armour due to the AP4 of your weapon, but its increase to your strength and the fact they can't negate your armour now either means you are taking the advantage as its easier to wound them. You still have the issue of being fearless so you can get stuck in combats you don't necessarily want to, which is a problem, but its one you can work with fairly easily. And sure you can't plonk him in a Rhino or Razorback, but 6th Ed is much more suited to infantry armies anyway. And due to the 12 transport capacity of Marine drop pods you can attach him to a squad and send him down in one of those, or teleport him in with a unit of Terminators.
He is tactically flexible in use, resilient and cheap. A good choice for a cheap but effective Warlord in your army if you want to put your points else where.

In summary  the changes to close combat weapons has reduced the power of Chaplains some what, and the addition of challenges has meant players need to think carefully about their Warlords survivability. So it now comes down to the Chaplains other Wargear, not just their cheap power weapon good save combo. Paying that little bit more for terminator armour is a lot more important than it was before. And if you are doing that perhaps another HQ choice might fit the bill more readily?

So lets look back to original question. Are Chaplains still worth fielding? Well I think the answer is yes, BUT in a very different way to in 5th Ed. The normal power armoured Chaplains still work, but also have more draw backs relegating them away from the role of primary HQ. The terminator armoured Chaplain however has only become better. He can still easily hold the role of primary HQ choice as the negatives are offset by his versatility and survivability. But keep in mind that for the cost of a terminator Chaplain you can get a Captain with a power sword and artificer armour. Just saying.

Thanks for reading, I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter?
Hatter out.

1 comment:

  1. Was wondering what uses the chaplin could have compared to other HQ's...Great article!