Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Gaming: Predator VS Vindicator (Part 1)
"Consider the Predator. Let your soul be armoured with Faith, driven on the tracks of obedience which overcomes all obstacles, and armed with the three great guns of Zeal, Duty and Purity."
The debate rages, Predator VS Vindicator. It’s an argument that many Space Marine players have had, and it continues to rage to this day. The changes within 5th edition have altered the role of this trusty space marine armour piece. Today we will be focusing on the pros of the Predator in relation to the Vindicator, and we will address the Vindicator’s positives in a later article. Also to note, I will not be discussing the lascannon variant of the Predator here. I feel this variant is not at all viable anymore under 5th edition rules, but we can discuss that in a future article.
I have heard many players both on forums and in real life discuss their abhorrence for the Predator under the new 5th edition rule set. For those who are new to the game, or don’t know much about Warhammer 40,000, 5th ed brought with it some fairly large changes to the way tanks operate in the 41st millennium. The most important to Predators was the changes to defensive weaponry.
What does a defensive weapon mean? Within the vehicle rules a tank has one of two weapon classifications, primary and defensive. All defensive weapons can always be fired when moving 6 inches or under (listed henceforth as ‘combat speed’) while only one primary weapon may be fired. Any number of defensive or primary weapons may be fired if the vehicle does not move at all.
The new cut off mark for a defensive weapon as been lowered to strength 4 and below, which rules out the strength 5 Heavy Bolters a Predator employs as its side sponson weaponry. This means the Predator can no longer ‘roll forward’ with all its weapons firing, which is what has turned many players away from what was once the bulwark of space marine offence.
It’s true that it has suffered in this role, but we must look at it in the context of the entirety of the rules set, for now it has developed a new role. Cover saves are now far more prevalent, and your foe’s footsloggers (and sometimes armour) will rarely be without that trusty 4+ save. This means the effect of weapons such as the demolisher cannon (Strength 10, AP 2) has decreased greatly, no longer is a ‘hit’ a death sentence for an entire squad.
The changes to cover however have had virtually no effect on the Predator destructor’s (This is the load out with a autocannon for the turret and two heavy bolters on the sponsons) arsenal. One Predator is still putting out 6 heavy bolter shots, and 2 autocannon shots every turn, and since most units in the game will get an armour save vs. these AP 5 weapons, the changes to cover matter little to its effectiveness.
The rate of fire also gives you a much greater margin for accommodating bad dice rolls. One unlikely roll on a scatter dice can render your Vindicator’s demolisher cannon far wide, meaning it does nothing to contribute for this battle. The Predator on the other hand, with 8 separate dice, and needing only a 3+ to hit as a space marine vehicle, will rarely fail to find its mark with at least half of those weapons. And the high strength of all of them ensures a good majority of those that hit, will also wound.
It is for this reason; I think that while the Vindicators kills may look more spectacular and you may remember them better in your mind, over the long run, the workhorse Predator will slowly rack up far more kills.
“But the Vindicator can move and fire, while the Predator must remain stationary to get the same benefit!” I hear you say. A true statement and I’ll be addressing the advantages of this in the Vindicator article, but remaining stationary is not without its benefits. With the changes to cover for vehicles in 5th edition (If your tank is 50% obscured from the shooter, you get a 4+ cover save ignoring all damage) you are strongly encouraged to find a advantageous firing point, park yourself there for the duration of the game and let lose. The risks of moving out into open space are huge; as you lose your 50% chance to ignore that lucky lascannon hit that would otherwise wipe out your precious fire support. The incredibly long range of the Predator’s weaponry also adds to this advantage. With a greater ‘arc of death’ it is given far more options in choosing its locale of residence. Your entire deployment zone is almost always fine for choosing where to place it. While in contrast a Vindicator’s much smaller range means it must be deployed far more aggressively. And its list of viable locations where it can get that 50% cover save is vastly reduced, as it doesn’t have such a large area of the board where it can sit and still be in range of potential targets.
This brings us to our last point for today, range. The primary threats to vehicles now in 5th edition come from close combat and melta weaponry. With the inability to be destroyed from glancing hits, always striking the rear armour (the change to close combat for vehicles in 5th ed) as well as the +1 on the damage table from melta weaponry (for being AP 1) and the extra dice on the penetration roll for being within half range make both these avenues of attack highly perilous for tanks. Thus, the very short range of the Vindicator will force you to bring it within range of being charged by the enemy who may be packing melta bombs or a powerfist (slightly negated by the fact it should always be moving, granted) and within range of that terrifying melta weaponry your opponent is no doubt employing. Combine this with the much harder time a Vindicator will have in finding a decent vantage point to offload its firepower while maintaining that all important cover save, and you start to see why things stack up in the favour of the Predator in my mind.
Finally, we come to points cost. For all this, with sponson upgrades a Predator will only cost you 85 points. Almost nothing in a game of 1,500 points or more. By comparison a Vindicator will set you back 110 points, a much steeper investment for something I feel is much more likely to not only be targeted and die, but present itself as a open target for destruction by barrelling in at the forefront of your army.
So, to summarise. Rate of fire, ability to take advantage of cover saves and the long range of its weaponry are the primary advantages a Predator possesses, as well as being incredible value for points at only 85.
Now, this is not to say that Vindicators are not without their own advantages. They do have them, and they are many, and I will be describing them in a soon to follow article.
But I hope this has helped turn some of you around to the cause of the Predator, and seen how strong an artillery piece it can be for you, sitting at the back of the board, rattling off a constant stream of heavy firepower. I would argue, however, they are best taken in pairs, but that can be the subject for another article on how to use your Predator, now I’ve convinced you to take one!
As always, comments, feedback or emails are more than welcome, I am happy to hear your insights on this topic or any other!
Good luck, and happy gaming!