Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rebuttal: The Autolas Predator

Much to my chagrin, I still read Stelek's Blog "Yes the Truth Hurts", mainly because the lack of good competitive analysis on the internet is a frustration of mine, and only a few spots actually have it. One of them being "Yes the Truth Hurts", even if you have to wade through Stelek's off putting and overly critical nature.

I could post my rebuttal on the comments section of Stelek's blog, but what is the fun of being a contributor to a blog if you can't write an article or two.

This article is in response to Stelek's article he posted concerning the Autocannon / Lascannon Sponson Predator(known as the Autolas Pred) and it's use in the Blood Angels codex, specifically in relation to a directly competing choice the two twin-linked Autocannon Dreadnought (know as the "Rifleman" Dread).

It's a good read, and he makes some excellent points. You can read it here:

Essentially his argument boils down to these points, that puts the Rifleman Dread above the Autolas Pred:

1. The Predator is overpriced because it doesn't fully utilize it's fast status and is to static in a Blood Angels list that relies on speed.

2. Eldar have better fast moving tanks then Space Marines, and Space Marines shouldn't act like Eldar.

3. It doesn't have a high side armor and is more prone to die quicker to side shots. Versus Eldar the higher front AV means nothing.

4. Cracking heavy armor is unnecessary in that slot considering Assault Squads with Meltaguns.

5. You can accomplish the same task the Autolas does with other slots and save Heavy Support slots for other things.

They are not bad points, but I think the point of including the Autolas Predator is lost a little in this article.

The majority of this article compares the Blood Angels to Eldar, which I think is a misnomer. Obviously having Fast Vehicles does not make Blood Angels Eldar. Marines are still Marines and play the same. The only thing Blood Angels do is promote a fast moving glass hammer aspect to units that are accustomed to being more "take all comers". The role of an Autolas Predator in a Blood Angels list in not the same roll as a Falcon or Wave Serpent in an Eldar list, and the Autolas shouldn't be trying to accomplish the same role.

Comparing the two units (the rifleman and the autolas) is a good comparison point because you are more likely to take one of the other. So let's compare them.

The Autolas Predator is 135, 140 if you include a Dozerblade (and at tht price, why not).

The Rifleman Dread is 120. 135 if you take extra armor, which is more appealing to a Dreadnought then a tank.

Both units provide the same role, long range fire support for an army that is best played aggressively. This is a critical function, as an assault army losses a lot of efficiency if the opponents guns run unmolested for even a single turn.

The Predator has +1 Armor on the Front, but -1 on the sides. Has a slightly bigger profile so it is a little harder to get cover then a dreadnought, but not by a significant number. The Dreadnought has a higher profile on it's guns, but generally, if your opponent knows what he is doing, you are probably shooting at something in cover anyways. All of this is not a significant argument for me to dismiss either as the better choice.

Both have the same move and fire potential at 6". The Predator has the ability to move flat out for last minute objective contesting if it needs to, but we are not Eldar, we should only consider that as a last resort action. The Predator can move 12" and fire a single weapon, but that seems to be a waste to move and intentionally limit the fore power it puts out, and should only be done, again, if absolutely necessary. The Dreadnought on the plus side can tie units up in close combat, but the con of that is that the Dreadnought in no longer shooting, the Predator can easily move away and fire again, if ever charged.

So ultimately both units in optimal situations will be moving 6" and firing almost all the time.

The real question is and will always be, is a higher front armor and 2 Autocannons, 2 Lascannons worth 15 points more then a lower front armor and 4 twin-linked autocannon shots.

Let's look at damage output for each against common targets (for the sake of argument, I am going with front armor on all targets, and cover for all targets, my opinion, worst case scenario is always the best judge):

Against a Chimera:

2 Autocannon Shots hit 1.32 times, of those hits, 0.22 Penetrate, 0.11 Get's Past Cover
2 Lascannon Shots hit 1.32 times. of those hits, 0.66 Penetrate, 0.33 Get's Past Cover
Total 0.44 chance of Penetrating

Rifleman Dread:
4 Autocanno Shots hit 2.64 times, plus 0.89 for twin-linked, equals 3.53 hits, 0.56 Penetrate, 0.28 Gets past Cover
Total 0.28 chance of Penetrating

Against a Rhino:

2 Autocannon Shots hit 1.32 times, of those hits, 0.44 Penetrate, 0.22 Get's Past Cover
2 Lascannon Shots hit 1.32 times. of those hits, 0.87Penetrate, 0.44 Get's Past Cover
Total 0.66 chance of Penetrating

Rifleman Dread:
4 Autocanno Shots hit 2.64 times, plus 0.89 for twin-linked, equals 3.53 hits, 1.16 Penetrate, 0.58 Gets past Cover
Total 0.58 chance of Penetrating

In each instance, the higher strength of the Lascannons make all the difference. And should we go into the amount of tanks in the game that a Rifleman Dread can't even hurt? Like Russ chasis and Monoliths? How about Tyranid Monstrous Creatures? Most of the time they will not stand to concentrated Lascannon fire in conjunction with other shooting, but they can easily handle Autocannons that grant them their saves. And my last point is Valkries/ Vendettas/ Storm Ravens which are big models on a tall stand that rarely get cover. The higher strength matters much versus them.

To me, this points out why the Predator is worth the 15 point difference. That doesn't make the Rifleman Dread bad by any stretch of the imagination, but the higher strength and low AP of the sponsons keeps is as a competitive choice in my opinion.

On last argument, part of Stelek's anti predator argument was this little jem.

"When deploying your army on the long board edge, you should put a Predator in each corner. This allows you to cover midfield and keep your higher front armor against the enemy. This will let you fire into side arcs of any vehicle that crosses into midfield, with at least one Predator. The other will likely be firing into the front arc, which may or may not matter. For Chimeras and Battlewagons, it does. For most other units, it does not. Oddly enough, the only Predator you'll be shooting in the side armor, will be...a Blood Angels Predator."

I think that argument is ultimately very situational. Namely one point I have is that you will not have pitched battle deployment in every mission. In Dawn of War, you can move on to cover the field like that, but in Spearhead, it is nearly impossible without burning movement to set that up.

Side shots are nice, but not necessary. As I pointed out, against most targets, the higher strength of the Predator allows it to still have a reasonable chance to penetrate even from the front. Also with the ability to move and fire, I can still get side shots on things with minimal effort. If I was worried about my opponent shooting me in the side, I would be more then willing to either move behind cover and/or still keep my front facing to the enemy and shot only a single lascannon at my target.

As he eloquently pointed out, Blood Angels have plenty of opportunity to bust hard armor. The role of the Autolas and the Rifleman is to shake/stun armor on your approach to an IG gunline, or to eliminate aggressive armor coming your way that will more then likely be in light armored transports. In that regard, my opinion is that the Predator is superior in that task. Especially combined with the necessary support elements.

If you are fielding Dreadnoughts in a Blood Angels army that aren't Librarian Dreads, they need to have Blood Talons, but more on that later.


  1. I'm debating what to include in my ard boyz list as anti-fast skimmer firepower. I have the dread bodies, all I would need to do is pick up arms, so I'm leaning in that direction.

    Whichever I do pick-up, it likely means a loss of at least one of the two vindicators I'm running right now.

    I wish they'd put up the scenarios now, so we could practice with them ASAP.

  2. I really liked the 2 Autolas, 1 Vindicator Combo I ran Saturday in the 1500 point tournament. I am think of combining that with 2 Baals for the 2000 point tournament.

    I have a sneaky suspicion that the Aard Boyz missions are not changing.