The ‘normal’ Astartes when setup for a similar output, has 3-4 less wounds and unless your Grey Hunters only 12” range guns. If you just need a squad of BolterBros, Intercessors are there for you. They are BolterBro who have useful Bolters and can engage in melee. And the reason they are anchor secondary, is at 9 Points a wound, and 10 wounds a squad, it takes a significant amount of effort to actually dislodge them.
The only reason they are not, also primary in anchor, is that if you are having them hold backfield, you are spending 90-95 Points for rough equivalent of two Mediocre Heavy Bolters. And if you are spending 100 Points for Stalkers, you are paying 100 Points for a single HotShot VolleyGun on a really really durable chassis.
That said, people spend 90 Points for a Lascannon, and you can shoot at 30-36 inches. Also can fight off bully units, so they are good at the anchor role. But if they are anchoring you’d want them in the midfield. And as push units, Intercessors can using either standard rifles or auto rifles, are two mobile mediocre heavy bolter or are moving 9” a turn and shoot 10 Bolter Shots at 4+ to hit. And in melee can put out same offensive potential as 7-8 PA Marines.
The reason they aren’t secondary or primary, is that push units basically want to be advancing every turn. And then want to stay locked to force enemy to withdraw. Intercessors in contrast are better at shooting then melee. Similar to anchor they can do the role, but you’d rather that be acting as fire support.
Intercessors, with Bolt Rifles or AutoRifles, are a Unit that is as the saying goes “Jack of All Trades, Master of None”. While best as fire support, they can anchor and push reasonably well. But if you using Intercessors you must be using them for all their stats. But more importantly, the value or ability of an Intercessor is determined if agree with second half of the above saying, “Better than the Masters of One.” If you don’t MSU Double Special is better fire support as their shooting is does far more.
The second of our main line squad, is the Crusader Squad. The best tactical squad variant in the game, bar possibly the Grey Hunters (we aren’t worse nor are they better. The two squads are similar, but are the best tactical variants, in different ways, which I’ll explain in two weeks). The Crusader Squad is primary in push, secondary in fire support and tertiary in anchor.
Crusader Squad, is a fantastic push unit, but you have to tide. A tide squad is 13-15 man strong, sometimes 20 man, and you use that over multiple MSU for several reasons. One buff circles, playing the conga game, is much easier with larger squads. Second, Neophytes, seriously Neophytes, if you take nearly equal Neophyte/Initiate ratio you put out the same number of strength 4 AP 0 attacks as an equivalent point of Vanguard. You can better receive and take wounds better before you hit the point of insignificance (3-4 Men).
Tide Squads will have one more power weapon attack than most equivalent units, means we will actually reliably kill a marine a turn in melee. And yes a 13 Point ChainBro is statistically more efficient in terms of points spend to net wounds ultimately caused, than 17 point SwordBro.
A 17 Point SwordBro does kill more than a 13 Point ChainBro, (SwordBro kills 0.285 Marines to a ChainBro kill 0.22 Marines). And given your advancing every turn or engage in melee, a heavy weapon will be useless. And your not making yourself actively ‘worse’, just a tad less efficient for more raw damage. And at end of the day, it’s 4 (8) Point Upgrade. It’s almost a whole Neophyte cheaper than buying another ChainBro.
Other reason you tide:
10 Man Squad puts out 15 Chain, and 3 PowSword in melee, plus 2 Specials, 1 Krak Grenade and 7 Pistols.
14 Man, does 23 Chain, 3 PowSwords, 2 Specials, 1 Krak Grenade and 11 Pistols (all else stays same).
For 46 Points, your increasing your STR 4 AP 0 output by a third (assuming 10 Man 6-4 to 14 Man with equal Init-Neo). The 10 Man Squad costs around 160 Points. For just over 25%, you are getting an increase of 33% in your damage. Before anyone says “well you are ignoring Specials” well Specials once your engaged mean notning. And your Power Swords are there so you win faster, they aren’t the reason why you win.
But if we instead compare to 2 5 Man MSU Squads.
10 Chain, 6 Power Sword, 2 Krak Grenade, 4 Special, and 4 Pistols. For about 100 Points each.
We have double number of cool attacks compared to our tide squad. But less than half the same number of STR 4 AP - attacks. The additional number of cool attacks equates to 3 dead. Of which 2.2 of the additional dead, only happen on our turn when we are not locked in combat. In comparison, the additional in melee alone strengths 4 AP 0 attack the tide has, causes 1 more additional each time we fight in melee. And every time we can shoot Pistols we cause 0.8 additional dead over the two MSU Squads. Meaning the tide squad kills after three rounds of combat, two shooting phases, 4.6 to those MSU squads in the same circumstance causing 4.4.
That said, MSU Crusaders are fantastic fire support. If you HoFHeavy(I like Bolter)/Double Special, for just over 100 Points, you are getting half the output of the an Intercessor Squad + (if special is Plasma) the output of a Lascannon or two Lascannons in Rapid Range. And secondly, you have 9 Strength 4 AP 0 attacks, and 2 Bolters, or 1 Pistol and a Krak Grenade. While in contrast they lack Intercessor Power Sword and 5 more wounds, they are able to threaten medium to light armor.
And able to ride in transports, that can deploy the unit where needed in midfield and protect them. An MSU FireSupport should almost always be Razor mounted. As the Razor in that scenario is doing the same job as the MSU Support inside. While a Rhino is s LoS Blocker and 74 Points for a BolterBro Squad.
And finally, Crusader as Anchors. Crusaders as anchors are separated by being MSU Shooty or large Tide Squads. Both of the discussions noted above are applied here too. The difference is MSU Shooty, and a big advantage over an Intercessor your not spending 10-15 Points for an additional attack that you likely won’t be using (If you accept my assumption that an additional wound is worth about 2 to 2.5 points).
And then the other comparable unit, Devastator Squad. If a Crusader Squad is a 5 Man MSU with Heavy (Lascannon or Missile), Double Special (Plasma), is the same damage output as Devastator Squad with Double Heavy (Missile Launcher or Lascannon) (signum include). While 2 Weapon Devies, aren’t particularly common, they aren’t non-existent.
The Devies will have more ablative wounds and the cherub, to the Crusaders having more melee attacks, and ability to rapid. The main advantage is that, Crusaders have ObjSec. So if the opponent wants your home field objective especially during games with mid game scoring, they need a troop of their own, or to kill all your Crusaders. Especially important given most bully units are fast or elite not troop choices.
The tide squad, not much to say here. By comparison, have you ever fought conscript pre-Commissar Nerf? With Cenos, Relic Banner and Rite of War, 2 CP or even a simple chaplain, plus good old “And They Shall Know No Fear”, a Crusader Blob has the same functional purpose.
You won’t dislodge it without killing every single model in the squad. Or having to snipe the characters/Cenos. And unlike conscripts, common anti horde is not wounding Crusaders on 2’s. Even if you kill support units, the squad still has “And they Shall Know No Fear” and Ld8.
Just to demonstrate if you kill 6 guys, there is a 55% chance no will run away anyways. If you lose 7 guys, you have 33% chance to no lose anyone else. And taking 5-6 wounds, means you only have 8-10 men left. If the opponent kills enough battle shock a worry (6+) your squad so small it is insignificant at that stage anyways.
So finally, the Crusader is best/optimal at pushing, not because its necessary better at it than anchoring or fire supporting, but more so that we have several other units that can fill anchoring and fire supporting elsewhere reasonably. The Crusaders ability to act as a pusher, among marine line units especially, is unparalleled. At “12” point marine, having an extra Power Weapon and 4-6 more wounds than equivalent squads, they can survive long term engagements with enemy lines and sweep relatively quickly. (In comparison to other line squads.
I will just aside and explain why I did not discuss 6-4 Rhino Support Crusaders. 10 Man Support Crusaders, are primarily range/shooty Units that hide in Rhino or Drop Pods turn 1, then jump out start of turn 2 and camp mid field. A 5 Man Support Squad, is 100-115 to a 10 Man 160-170. The 50 more points you spend to give ablative wounds are better spend making that Rhino into a Razor so the transport can actually contribute to the game.
The other setup a 10 man footslogging, Double Sword, Squad, is almost 70 more points than a 5 man Intercessor with PowSword. And does exactly the same role. And finally a 10 man anchor unit, is wasting 7 guys, whom are just standing around. While cheaper than a tide squad, but 30-40 Points, it is significantly less durable and because it likely has a one shot heavy doesn’t want to be moving ever. And for about same points a VenDread has better BS, can move and shoot (well it will on 3+ v 4+), isn’t murdered by excess infantry fire. That was a longer aside than I meant, but the pointless (not uselessness) of 10 Man Crusaders is important to demonstrate.
Those are our two main line squads, next week will be discussing Reivers and Scout Squads. With some comments assault squad to ease the transition to discussing the other power armored line squads and how we compare.