During the pre-christmas days of December, Hawk showed off renders for their new models. Three have been debuted for January pre-order. Coinciding with pre-order availability, Hawk have released the current state experimental rules for these units.
This article will be my un-tested opinion on the units capabilities and costs. It isn’t based on play-testing, and it isn’t based on mathematics. It’s based on me eyeballing the statline and drawing on my experience with DZC.
The most visually striking, and exciting option for me, is the new Tarantula Walker for the Shaltari. The best thing about this walker, is that it is a standard choice. It doesn’t force you to take less walkers, it means you don’t have to take any grav tanks! These walkers are mass 1.5 and come in 2, 4, or 6 per unit. So a standard gateway can bring 3 in in one go. At 55pts, they aren’t cheap. But they are A8 with a 5+ passive, two damage points, and speed 6. The shaltari grav tanks are limited by a MF of 6″, so this unit is functionally the same speed most of the time, and is capable of making use of roads for 8″ move without firing. The downside is the cost, at 55pts this is an expensive unit, akin to a squadron of heavy UCM tanks per model.
Why so expensive? This walker mounts a new gun, and a very interesting one. The gravity cannon caps out at 18″ R(C) and R(F), and has no E value. Instead it has a higher effective E (ie easier to damage the target) the higher the armour and damage point values of the target unit. The idea being that the most massive the target, the less likely it is from an engineering perspective, to withstand multipliers of it’s own mass (i’m guessing). A cool mechanic, and much better done than some other company’s efforts into the area of gravitic weapons. As a secondary armament, there is a coaxial laser at E7. Not great, but miles ahead of a gatling gun! The short range would normally make me doubt the capability of this walker, however it has a nasty trick. The tarantula can walk “up” a building up to 7″ tall, in one move, assuming it’s within 2″ of the wall. In cramped cities, these walkers are going to be more like trap door spiders! Jumping out and grav gunning the enemy!
If there’s one aspect of this unit I dislike, it’s that the grav gun is going to be pretty good against infantry. With most infantry starting with 5 DPs this is going to be doing good infantry damage. In the interests of balance, perhaps it’s best for this weapon to be unable to damage infantry (no mass to lock on to, ability of living beings to withstand “high G” forces (I’m guessing the grav gun is pushing Gs up to 3 or 4 effective G, most engineering is designed to resist twice the expected load, not four times, and these G forces, while discomforting are survivable for humans). With regard to meta, a super-heavy specialist like this shouldn’t be culling infantry too well. Skimmers take an extra -1, probably representing some kind of skimmer-grav cannon interaction or perhaps the fact they are engineered closer to tolerance seeing as they use some kind of AG field?
Cool unit, replaces the “meh” shaltari skimmer tanks, interesting mechanics (which is what the Shaltari are about). I would rate this as the new de-facto standard for shaltari forces. Hawk: time to issue new starter kits for Shaltari! :P
The most wanted new concept, was a replacement for the Juno. PHR players (rightly or wrongly) resent the cost of the Juno in either configuration (I think it’s about right). But against lists with strong AA and/or interceptors, sometimes you need to move forces via ground units.
I’m a little bit sorry to say, that the Angelos is not a replacement for the Juno series. It’s a separate unit, and it’s actually a support. This may be a bigger deal in the future, when manipulation of lists may mean that you don’t need to take a troop contingent (if you don’t want to). Firstly, the Angelos is not cheap! At 45pts, it’s half the firepower of an enyo! On the flipside, as a support unit these can be fit into ANY list. Further, as a skimmer, it can actually get across the field! I can see these being picked up to add troops to PHR lists in addition to the nearly obligatory immortals in light dropships. The addition of two demolisher cannons and two bases of immortals to any battlegroup is going to give PHR the ability to seize objectives and or initiate CQBs outside of troop battle groups. For instance, you might add two angelos to a group with enyos. You can lure your opponent into a building to init a CQB and then bring it down on their heads with your demolisher guns.
Overall, this will not be a standard PHR pick. However I do think it will be a good pick! However I also fully expect to see comments on it’s price before anyone’s even proxied a game with it. I feel there is an issue with the experimental rules, though. Rules as written, you can take sirens in katana as a support choice. Perhaps this is intended? But with the limitations so tight on exotics in general, I doubt it. Reword “infantry” to “troop infantry”?
Katana Light Tank
The Katana Light Tank is a new standard choice for the UCM. The Sabre is known for taking a while to die, and taking even longer to get anywhere. For a drop in armour, outright shot E, range, and the loss of articulation the katana gives you twice the shot speed, fifty percent most speed, and the ability to “smoke” yourself once per battle to reduce enemy accuracy (ala smart smoke rounds on the longbow). The smoke launchers don’t count as shooting, and don’t reduce the accuracy of the katana’s firepower. Dropping a point of E is not a small step. The derision of E8 and E7 weapons is well founded. Having an E one lower than the target armour, halves the effectiveness of the round, and any lower than that is incapable of damage. That said, E9 means that at least it can damage every unit in the game. Against skimmers, the katana will outshoot the sabre. Against A9 or lower, it will outshoot the sabre. Therefore the sabre’s only real benefit is in stand-off distance, survivability, and in UCM mirror matches against other sabres. Even in mirror matches, I’d probably prefer the agility and statistical reliability of the katana. At 30pts, they are a 20% discount on the sabre. In my humble opinion, this is too much. I’d change the smoke launchers to a +1 accuracy penalty once per battle or +2 instead of shooting, and increase the cost to 32. As they currently stand, I’ll be running these as my new standard choice.
These new units look like they add considerable flexibility to the forces they complement. It’s great to see Hawk fleshing out the tactical arsenal of each faction, and doing so without compromising both the faction feel, and balance of the game. Despite my negative comments for each, the changes necessary to bring it into line with my opinion are pretty minor. However I do believe (as a UCM player) that the katana is probably a little too good for it’s cost!