I’ve been thinking about the role that land speeders will play in my army now that we’ve moved into 6th ed. Overall I think they’ve stayed viable through all of the changes and will still find their way into my lists often. I’ll go over my thoughts on the changes that have occurred.
One of the widely discussed changes in 6th ed is the addition of hull points and their effect on vehicles. Land speeders have 2 HP, meaning two glances and they’re dead. As a plus they’ve gained a 5+ jink if they’ve moved, a 4+ if they’ve gone flat out. This helps but they’re still pretty vulnerable targets. Like all vehicles, moving land speeders can now be hit on a 3+ in hand to hand so getting close to infantry is that much more dangerous.
Overall, I don’t this has changed much for the land speeder. They didn’t stand up to much abuse in 5th, and they won’t stand up to much in 6th. Set them up to operate at range or take as much down with them as possible before they’re wrecked.
Land speeders still move up to 12″. The 18″ flat out move is now resolved in the shooting phase which allows you to resolve your other shooting before deciding whether to shoot or flat out. This is a nice bonus, allowing you to line up a good shot but dive for cover if it’s not needed. Land speeders are also still able to deep strike, and this is less risky thanks to a more forgiving mishap table. Overall, land speeders have gained a little more mobility in certain conditions but are otherwise unchanged.
Objective Denial (Lack Of)
It’s important to recognize that in most cases the land speeder can no longer deny objectives. This is a blow to the one-gun variants as once they lose the one weapon they’re only good for blocking movement/LOS and they’re not very good for that. The two gun variants will always have at least one gun, they’ll be out of hull points before they can lose a second. Land Speeders will have to earn their place through destructive output and harassment now, so get them out there to shoot.
Here is where the land speeder has gained some ground in 6th edition. Fast vehicles can now move at cruising speed and fire up to two weapons at full ballistic skill. Since 2 is the maximum number of weapons on a land speeder this means you’re at full firing capacity unless you move flat out. No more worrying about primary vs. defensive weapons, no more deciding which weapon to use, just cruise along and fire away!
Obviously, there’s been no change to what weapons you can take. The options available are the same but their merits have changed and are worth re-evaluation for 6th edition. I won’t bother looking too closely at single weapon builds. You can still go that route if you’re looking for the cheapest options but given the ability to fire both weapons I won’t be fielding single weapon builds often. The two weapon options provide so much more utility.
Dual Heavy Bolter – 60 points for 6 heavy bolter shots isn’t a bad deal. They’ve got the range and speed to avoid a lot of return fire from small arms. Great against light infantry. Not a bad harassment unit against MEQ but don’t expect it to dominate anything there. There aren’t many cases that I would consider a single heavy bolter speeder when it only costs 10 points to double it’s output.
Dual Heavy Flamer – Same cost as the dual heavy bolter and potentially brutal up close. Could be used to deep strike in and toast something with the double templates. Expect this to be a suicide unit at that range. While it has a high damage potential the opportunity to maximize that potential will be rare so it’s more likely to earn it’s points by drawing some fire off the rest of your army for a turn. It could be more effective in a squadron where you can bring enough weight of fire on arrival to cripple a unit.
Heavy Bolter/Assault Cannon – One of the most expensive options, this one is similar to the dual HB option but with a bit more punch. The AC means it’s a threat to light vehicles but the shorter range brings you into return fire range where it had better break it’s target or it will be at risk. This will be most effective if used in conjunction with other units to focus fire units to oblivion, or using speed/deep strike for side/rear armor shots. I would consider this an anti-infantry build with some anti-tank capability.
Multi-Melta/Assault Cannon – For a few points more you can take a multi-melta for more anti-tank. This should do well against light vehicles and poke some holes in infantry units, it will have decent chances against heaver vehicles. I think there are better options against infantry and better options against vehicles. It’s a bit more versatile than some builds but probably not ideal.
Multi-Melta/Heavy Bolter – A little bit of versatility but not particulary great at anything. Neither weapon really adds anything to the other.
Dual Multi-Melta – At 80 points this one isn’t a bad buy. The 24″ range means it needs to get into that danger zone to operate, and it needs to be at 12″ to be fully effective against vehicles. It can now deep strike in and fire both guns so it is a viable meltacide unit. Barring extreme luck this build will only survive a game if you’ve misused it, distracted the enemy with a tougher threat, or quickly destroyed their ability to retaliate.
Typhoon/Heavy Bolter – An old standby that retains pretty much the same function as before. Although the assault cannon builds have some potential I can’t see myself chosing that over a Typhoon for the same points. This has enough range to avoid most return fire meaning your opponent will often need his big guns to reach it, taking some pressure off your other hard targets. Still great at anti-infantry with the HB and dual frag. With the added ability to fire the HB and krak at the same time this will gain some utility against MEQ and av 10-11 but not by a significant amount.
Typhoon/Multi-Melta – The anti-tank build with three strength 8 shots on the move, this max-cost build is a better buy than the MM/AC. This could be used to deep strike next to a tank but the dual MM would work about as well for 20 points less. It still needs to get dangerously close to be fully effective but even at 24″ it’s going to be great against most vehicles. It has the option to operate at 48″ for safety and can switch to frag to double as horde control. This build is well suited to picking off vehicles on the flanks where it can get the shot without opening itself up to as much return fire but it’s still cheap enough to trade it for the elimination of a high priority target without much remorse.
Single Heavy Flamer Builds – I wouldn’t bother with only one heavy flamer when for only 10 points you can double the output. Flamer builds won’t live long so you want to get as much out of them in their first turns as possible. Pairing the heavy flamer with any of the other options adds a little versatility but I would prefer the heavy bolter for this because at least it lets you sit out of bolter range.
Now that land speeders can fire all weapons on the move I don’t see much point in taking single gun builds or pairing the heavy flamer with anything other than another heavy flamer. The Typhoon/Heavy Bolter is still the most versatile build but I think the Typhoon/Multi-Melta is now very viable. The dual MM is a good throwaway unit when you need to cripple a key tank. The dual HB is good for cheap and mobile anti infantry, and could be very effective in packs. When you need highly mobilie firepower at a decent price the land speeder is a good buy. Mix them with some other vehicles to force your opponent to make a priority call, or expect them to go down quickly.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?