My FLGS had its monthly 40K event this past Saturday, and I was able to attend using the new Space Marine Codex.
I'd debated with myself about what type of list to bring, and under which Chapter Tactics. I was debating between a classic Ultramarines list with Tacs and such led by Sicarius or my Biker list. I opted to go with the bike list, led by Khan, running White Scars Chapter Tactics.
Here's a general breakdown of the list:
Khan on Moondrakkan
Command Squad (apothecary, champion, powerfist veteran, standard bearer, storm shield veteran)
Techmarine on Bike
Librarian (ML2, Jump Pack, Force Staff)
Bikes 1 (5 strong, 2 plasmaguns, plasma pistol vet sergeant, multimelta attack bike)
Bikes 2 (5 strong, 2 meltaguns, combimelta vet sergeant)
Bikes 3 (5 strong, 2 flamers, combiflamer vet sergeant, heavy bolter attack bike)
Bikes 4 (5 strong, power axe vet sergeant)
Multimelta Attack Bike Squadron (3 strong)
Landspeeder Squadron (2 strong, Typhoons, heavy bolters)
Assault Marines (10 strong, 2 flamers, powerfist vet sergeant)
It's a pretty straightforward "fast" list that I have played a lot in the past, and that is reasonably fluffy for a "White Scars" build.
Unfortunately, attendance for the event was only 5 paying players and a fill-in swing player.
My first game was against a Tzeentch/Slaanesh Daemons list. I won't bother with turn-by-turn batreps, as I can barely remember the games 10 minutes afterward, let alone two days. I like to just hit the highlights, results, and some lessons learned.
It was a pretty even game, and one of those that comes down to single models or inches deciding points. I gained 11 points in the loss. It took me a while to remember how toplaythe damned game, being so rusty and out of it. I actually forgot how to roll for charge ranges! No major highlights, other than blasting a MASSIVE unit of Seekers off the table with combined shooting from half my army.
Second game was against a blanced Necron army led by Zahdrekh and Obyron and a Destroyrer Lord. We played a mission that used the short board edges as deployment (Hammer and Anvil?). Primary was kill points, if I remember right. My dice rolled well, and the Necron dice did not. I tabled the Necron force except for Zandrekh, who was on his way to slowly whittling down Khan in a challenge, but the game ended before the deed could be completed. Highlight was the D-Lord getting up three separate times and menacing my surviving troops bikes before being repeatedly being put down by multimeltas. 30 points to me.
Final game was against Imperial Guard Gunline, painted as traitors. This one was a "hold the center" mission played on a board with several ruined buildings and some small forests. The Guard army contained a couple Russes in a squadron, a Vendetta, an ADL with quad gun, PBS, Chimera Vets, some Armored Sentinels, a Lord Commissar, and a unit of three Quad Gun Launchers (Thudd Guns?). I ended up taking a victory here, but not until the game had gone a full six turns and we were down to five models or less, each. There were some big swings in momentum in both directions. I took a hammering for three turns from the Thudd Guns before I manged to engage them in melee and run them off the board with my Librarian. Mobility was key on this one, as I was able to hold a bike troop unit (the meltagunner squad) in my own deployment area for a while and keep enough alive to take the objective. The Guard troops were bottled up behind that ADL in Chimeras with everything else blocking their access route to the center objective. It was largely uncontested for the entire game, and I played towards that end. The whole game was a highlight, being a massive killfest that was massively entertaining. I am not a fan of the Thudd Gun unit in terms of balance. Twelve small blasts in a single volley is too many. I was regularly seeing upwards of 20 hits per volley on my well-spread bike units. No other unit in the enemy army came anywhere close to the kill tally those guns had. Now, I could have reached them sooner if I'd deepstruck the Assault Marines with the flamers in some crazy maneuver, but by conventional means of reachign them, I was fighitng a major uphill battle. They dohave their weaknesses, like opposing artifllery units, Mawlocs, or what have you, butoverall they're a tad bit underpointed for what they do. I know it sounds silly to complain about a unit when you win a game, so I'll stop here, lol.
At the end of the day I took first place with 66 battle points! Hurrah! I banked the store cedit towards either a Stormraven or a Stormtalon, or maybe another drop pod.
Throughout the day, folks asked me how I liked the new Marines. My response is that they're good, but not crushingly so.
The White Scars Chapter Tactics are nice, but you have to read them carefully. Only bikes units get the +1 to Hammer of Wrath hit strength, auto-pass Dangerous Terrain tests, and +1 Jink saves. So my Speeders only had a 5+ Jink, and my Assault Marines didn't have stronger HoW or auto-pass DT tests.
All units get Hit and Run, though. Khan only grants Scout to Bikes and units with a dedicated transport (though the rules don't say they have to be IN said transport). So, my ASM and Speeders couldn't Scout. This was important in Game Two, as I ended up blocking several bike units from using a Scout move by placing the ASM in front of them. Oops!
The bonus strength to HoW was pretty significant when I managed to get a lot of bikes into base contact. The trick is getting a lot of bikes into base contact. I ran units of 5-6 models, so you're maxxing out at 5-6 HoW hits. Nothing overpowering, but the bump from S4 to S5 is definitely a difference maker. You end up being able to penetrate AV10 rear armor, or actually glance AV11.
The automatic passing of Dangerous Terrain tests was very nice. Since 6th dropped, I'd been ignoring terrain and making the rolls anyways, since I could take an armor save against it. But to completely ignore it removed any and all doubt about terrain. it also sped up my games by that tiny bit because I wasn't rolling for each individual bike as I moved them (which is how you're supposed to do it, you don't just roll them all together and allocate the wounds as you see fit, so cut that out!).
+1 to Jink saves is a beautiful thing for bikes. Boosting gives you the old-school 3+ cover save. It's great when you're trying to cross open ground, since it's even better than any terrain-based cover you'll get. However, it doesn't work if you go second, Scout move or not. Jink is only applied if you moved in your Movement phase, NOT if you moved at all. A Scout move is not done in your Movement phase!
Hit and Run is also nice. Bikes aren't a melee unit, unless you're taking a Command Squad. Hit and Run allows bike units to either risk the charge to get stuck in versus a shooty opponent, or get out of town when engaged (and not obliterated) with a melee opponent. You have a 66% chance that you'll get away, but I managed to fail two Hit and Run tests during my games. One was during an important turn.
Khan's Scout ability is tricky to use. If you go first and Scout, you can't charge in your first turn (unless the opponent Seizes the Initiative). If you go second, you won't get your Jink saves when the enemy shoots at you during that first turn. But, the Scout rule does allow you to outflank with almost any non-vehicle unit in your army. You're able to attack from all three directions if you set things up right. Just remember that you can't charge after arriving from reserves!
Ideally, I'd use the army-wide ability to Scout by going first in order to make a glorious attempt at getting stuck in to a very shooty army, like the Guard gunline from my final game. I'd have taken first turn, Scouted 12" forward, then moved another 12". I could either blast away from there, or boost for the 3+ cover save.
I also kitted my Librarian and my Techmarine with auspexes. They only cost a handful of points, and performed to that level. -1 to cover saves isn't exactly brutal, but it is helpful. Knock an ADL down to a 5+ save versus a 4+ save. A unit Gone to Ground in a forest is 4+ instead of 3+, etc. The trick is the 12" range. Slice the cover save from an intervening unit from 5+ to 6+. It worked nicely for my Assault Marines (via the Librarian) and bikes (via the Techmarine), but probably won't work so well with something like a Tactical Squad. It was nice that you can use the auspex on one unit and target an entirely different unit, though. Be careful using it with a shooting-centered unit, as you have to give up the model's shooting to do so. Hopefully, I did that in my games.
All in all, the book is nice but hardly overpowered. It's following in the "balanced, useful, Codex" trend GW has been on since the 6th Edition hardbacks started being published.
I'm likely going to skip the October event, as it's a team tourney, and I'm not a fan of those. Plus, with the abyssmal turnout we've had in the last few months, the last thing I want to do is clear my schedule for a tournament and have six people show up.
I'm looking ahead to the Standish Standoff now, and am hoping to line out some preliminary army lists. I'd love to run the list I ran this weekend, but the composition system won't allow it. I need some Elite and Heavy slots filled, and the four HQ slots I used would be illegal under the rubric. I may have to go to the traditional Tactical Marine list to play with anything resembling a useful composition score. It's a ways off, so who knows?