When the latest Ork codex came out there were a ton of Ork players who quickly dismissed Tankbustas on account of the glory hog special rule. The rule states that a Tankbusta must shoot at a vehicle if it can see one and assault a vehicle if it can see one. Yes, I said assault a vehicle if it can see one, so you park a Rhino 20″ away then the Tankbustas will attempt to assault it. The rule is like a modified version of rage.
See, some people like to shoot Marines with rokkits, and why not when they are AP3? It’s a weapon we can take in quantity that denies Marine saves, not something common to Orks. The glory hog rule though makes putting those shots on Marines a bit more difficult but not impossible. With some positioning of your units and vehicles you can block sight to an enemy vehicle and leave yourself free to fire where you like.
There are the obvious downsides to glory hog but does it completely discredit the unit? I don’t feel it does. On the plus side every Tankbusta comes with a rokkit launcha. Sure, it’s fired with normal Ork BS but the potential is there. Tankbustas also get two free tankhamma upgrades. A tankhamma being a S10 weapon so it’s great at assaulting vehicles. Tankbustas also got bomb squigs, 18″ range that doesn’t require LoS (line of sight), and delivers a S8 hit. Of course every Tankbusta comes with tankbusta bombz, 6+2d6 vehicle damage. Now, all this comes at a cost. A Tankbusta costs as much as 2.5 normal Boyz.
The real problem I feel people have with Tankbustas is they want to use them for ranged AV support. Sure, you can get 15 rokkits in a unit if you wanted to but with Ork BS that means only five will hit and penetration of course varies on the target. Having five rokkits hit isn’t bad mind you but if you’re taking 15 of these guys then you’re paying a hefty price for the unit and five rokkits hitting doesn’t seem like it’s worth the cost, and I’d agree. No, Tankbustas are not built for reliable ranged AV, they are built for what Orks do well, assault stuff.
Every Tankbusta has tankbusta bombz to destroy any armor on the table in assault. You then have two tankhammas you could have in the unit and having three S10 attacks on the charge per-tankhamma slamming into rear armor is guaranteed penetrating hits on most anything. Let’s not forget you’ll have a Nob in the unit and if he’s got a power klaw then you’re delivering four S9 attacks on the charge. There really isn’t much that can stand up to a unit of Tankbustas charging into a tank. The rokkits are great for taking pot shots as you close the distance to the target but removal of the target is really left for assaulting it.
So the question is how do you get these expensive Tankbustas to their target? I use a Looted Wagon for mine but you could also use a Battlewagon if you’re inclined. Either way they need a ride because they are too expensive to leave on foot and get destroyed by enemy shooting or tied up with a unit you’d rather not have them assaulting. My Tankbustas will ride behind my main force taking shots on armor as they advance. Once they get in range they’ll jump out and assault, usually making quick work of their target.
Another problem people see with Tankbustas is they are an elite slot and fighting with units like Nobz, Lootas, Burnas, and Kommandos for inclusion in a list, all great elite choices. Add in that they really need a ride to do what they do and you’re now using an elite and a heavy slot to put them on the table. That really is a consideration that needs to be taken into account. With my lists I usually have free elite slots and heavy slots so it’s not a big deal but for others it may not be feasible, or at least not easily and not without dropping units you’ve come to rely on.
It wasn’t until recently that I started including them in my lists and now I have a hard time making a list without them in it. I can’t say they’ve always made their points back but they are a huge threat to so many armies out there, whether the threat comes from all the AV busting potential of the unit or the AP3 shots. Having such a threat on the table means a lot of fire power is going its way to remove it or they will deploy away from them as much as they can. Regarding the former then my Trukks full of Boyz are advancing more easily and for the latter it means I can use them during my deployment to push the enemy where I want. I’ve had the glory hog rule annoy me at times but I honestly put these guys on the table for busting armor. That is their priority to begin with and why they are in my list. Once they destroy all armor on the table then they can shot whatever they like, I can live with that.
Last thing I wanted to say is these guys are amazing at tearing down walkers in assault, one of the best units I’ve seen for it. The S10 tankhammas really shine when assaulting walkers and the PK on the Nob does well of course. The other Tankbustas use the tankbusta bombz for the lucky grenade plant, which I’ve done successfully more than once…not hard when you have enough bodies, you’re bound to get that 6. It’s one of the few units in 40K where every model in the unit has some way of taking down a vehicle or a walker. Other such units exist but they tend to cost a lot more than a Tankbusta does.
So, if you’ve been debating using Tankbustas then I say give them a shot. Don’t let the glory hog rule turn you off from these guys because you could be missing out on a really great unit.