I’ve always enjoyed playing drop pod armies. There’s something dramatic about deploying nothing, and then swamping the board with pods. It can also be pretty tactical. Picking your targets and pod placement is crucial. However they have one major drawback. Once you’re down and out your pod, the army if pretty static.
The battle company gets around this in 2 ways – first you have so many pods and so much Ob Sec, that your lack of mobility is less of a problem. In addition, because the pods are free, you have enough points to take other units (e.g. the bikes) to provide mobility. Of course the down side of the battle company is that you’re forced to take units you might not otherwise take – in my list largely the Tac Squads and the Scouts.
Having said that, the tactical doctrines that come with the Battel Company make the 5 man double melta tac squads reasonably good (despite their abject failure to kill the Knight in Game 2!). The scouts are OK – not great, but OK. They also provide a degree of mobility with infiltrate and outflank, but they are still just OK. I would prefer to take scout bikers, if it wasn’t for the fact you need to “waste” 20pts on cluster mines, which are pretty worthless.
The thing that really did work well was the Cataphracti Captain with the Dev Squads making their grav cannons slow and purposeful. I had one squad that was slow and purposeful, and another that wasn’t, and the difference in utility was marked. The problem with the non-slow and purposeful unit wasn’t so much the drop from 3 shots to 5 shots, but the drop from 24” range to 12” range. If I were to run the list again I would make room for a 2nd Cataphracti Terminator Captain. I could do this by swapping the assault squad and the bike squad for 2 naked attack bikes, and dropping the 4 Grav Cannons in each Dev Squad to 3.
I wasn’t convinced by the Iron Hands chapter tactics either. I wanted to try them, thinking they would help keep the Dreads and the Pods alive, but it’s too random. The other option is Ultramarines which gives me another Devastator and Tactical doctrine. However, my opponent in game 3 was using Star Phantoms CT, which are even better. They allow you to twin link all salvo, rapid fire, heavy and assault weapons once per game. With 2 tactical doctrines and a devastator doctrine from the battle company without the need for Chapter Tactics, I think this more than makes up for losing the extra tac and dev doctrine from the ultramarine CTs. And there’s another benefit – I can reroll reserve rolls of “1”, which is a reasonably big deal for a drop pod army.
Having said all that, I need to think about a list for LVO, as I don’t want to be carrying 10+ drop pods across the Atlantic, so probably not the battle company. I want to go back to my Raven Guard list as I really enjoyed it’s play style. However assuming the draft FAQ is adopted without significant change, I need to rework it a little.
But I have a plan!