Tuesday, 1 March 2011

OLD SCHOOL DAY: DC Vs Honour Guard Analysis

My contribution to old school day is a discussion between DC and HG...I rule in favour of HG back in April last year...one of the blog's very first posts... do the findings then still hold true today? Read and let me know...relive the ancient history of 10 months ago!! lol. 

As discussed here, Death Company have a place in my army for a multitude of reasons. But whenever a unit is chosen, clearly there is an opportunity cost.

What have I lost out on by selecting this particular unit?

During this article, I will consider the lost opportunity of using Honour Guard. A less-flavoursome, but possibly (we'll make up our minds at the end...) more competitive option.

It is worth noting a couple of points from the off;
1) This army is for the UKGT so is ultimately about competitive play. I leave the Wraithwall Eldar, Deathwing etc at home when it comes to playing for the win not for fluff...so the fact that DC outweigh HG massively in terms of fluff and flavour will not come into this discussion.

2) The points are strict. In order to maximise efficiency this 'replacement' for the DC must weigh in at the same points level. This is not an analysis in isolation, but part of a jigsaw...the complete picture should be considered. The HG for consideration will cost no more than 255 points -all in (this includes any 'buffers' required and transport - although HG don't require a SHP for FNP/FC as they have their own Novitiate; more on him later)

So where to begin? Same considerations for this unit as any other - damage output, survivability, versatility, mobility.

My first stab at Honour Guard in this context would be:
255 points:
3x Meltagun
2x Flamer
2x Power Sword
1x Lightning Claw
1x Melta Bombs
Jump Packs

THe JP's grant Descent of Angel so only d6" scatter and rerolled reserves, great for a turn 2 strike, highly likely at 75% chance. Remember we are considering in totality not isolation, so my list lacks true AV14 killers...Perfect opportunity on turn 2 for the HG to drop in near a high priority target and take it out.
I'll have had the chance to knock out a lot of stuff before they come in due to a reasonable first strike capability in the army. When the HG come in, they can nuke a remaining threat that others simply can't handle quickly enough.
So what happens when there is no AV14, or my lascannons and HKM have struck straight and true and there is bugger all Armour left to bust? In this scenario the unit can toast some of the meat that was inside transports, or hiding in cover and claiming objectives. Hence the cheep-like-the-budgie flamers. 2 flamers and 3 melta's will put alot of hurt on most units. Each flamer catching just 5 MEQ will kill 1.6 and the melta's would slag the same. This is not massive, but what if it is not MEQ's? TEQ will still lose half of thier MEQ equivalents, and GEQ will more than likely catch far more than 5 models under the flame template...
The other option for when there is no viable target for the Honour Guard when they come in is to provide support to RAS that have been ousted from their Razorbacks. The fire and CC ability of the unit is great, but the real strength in support is the Sanguinary Novitiate's Blood Chalice, granting both FNP and FC within a 6" bubble. Clearly, the turn the HG drop they cannot assault, but this does not stop the now boosted RAS from doing so...especially against a softened target (how is it a softened target? Remember, everything works together, nothing operates in isolation. I began playing 40k as Eldar and remember my lessons well).

So damage output as far as shooting goes is high. Certainly higher than the Death Company. Who despite being relentless (and realistically losing their 3rd CC attack from having 2 cc weapons) can only take advantage of rapid firing boltguns before charging...In direct comparison however to my list, the DC were not taking the role of horde control and therefore the HG are superior in firepower...Perhaps it is worth noting that the HG could spam flamers and therefore put out a far greater weight in wounds to hordes than rapid firing DC...

What about close combat? HG have 5 less attacks on the charge (due to replacing boltgun/pistol with meltagun/flamer and 'buying' a more dedicated battelfield role), same Initiative, same FNP and same Furious Charge (FC)...in direct comparison to DC they have the same number of power weapons, yet lack the Thunder Hammer.
This lack of S9 (on charge) PW is compensated on two fronts; firstly, the inclusion of the Lightning Claw which allows rerolled wounds, adding an additional pw wound to combat resolution on average vs MEQ or GEQ. Secondly, by being able to strike at I5 instead of last at I1 the thrid power weapon increases the survivability of the squad still further by reducing the number of attacks to come back at the HG, thereby also helping win combat through resolution...

OK. Perhaps a point to HG versus most targets, but a side note in favour of DC for taking on higher Toughness creatures and still having a sound chance of wounding it/him/her (?) ...

Survivability then. Same T4, same 3+, same FNP. One less body in the HG unit than in the DC.
So against shooting, the DC win by simple math...6 is more than 5...
In CC however, it depends on the number and quality of opponents. The greater number of I5(4 not charge) power weapon attacks may make a difference, but the DC are also a Weapon Skill point higher (WS5 compared to HG's 4) and therefore more likely to cause more hits. The fewer hits and wounds of the HG will kill outright most opponents, but with the lower statistical chance of hitting AND only having 1 more power weapon in context as well as fewer attacks, DC has to win on survivability in combat too I think...

Mobility? The fast DC Rhino versus the pinpoint accuracy of a DoA low-altitude jump drop? Frankly, not much in it. Once on the ground the HG can move fast, but 6" a turn slower than the Rhino moving flat out. But in turns 2+ shouldn't the Rhino already be where it needs to be?
The HG will have dropped in on their target straight away and will have had a hopefully game-swinging impact. A draw? Both as efficient as one another? Perhaps, but the HG cannot lose thier JP's carelessly littering the battlefield and forgetting where they put them...the DC on the other hand are susceptible to Rage USR once out of transport and AV11 + Smoke is not the most reliable protection should anyone truly wish to do something about it...

So we've covered the points for analysis. DC come out on top in CC, but the HG can achieve a far more surgical role than the blunt instrument DC. Where my list has plenty of anti-infantry fire, it lacks dominance in anti-heavy armour...relying in lascannons, rending, HKM and S10 ordnance...no real melta prescence. Perhaps this is what is needed.
The DC are marginally more survivable than the HG, though if the Rhino is blown it is quite likely they could be 'raged' around by the nose by a skilled opponent or simply blown away before having an impact...
DC also are more killy in CC, by a decent margin thanks to higher WS and a higher volume of attacks...

All in, I think it depends what your army needs the most...A surgeon or a cricket bat. For me, I think perhaps the Surgeon is to be called for...


  1. Another point with regards to mobility.

    DC will only have a 12" assault range once out of their transport. HG will have 18", so you have the option of assaulting a more appropriate foe.

    Mobility inside and outside of the transport needs to be considered, especially when not in an assault vehicle.

  2. I like HG more as SHP and melta platforms, they're pretty cheap when kitted minimally.

  3. I like that analysis - and I agree with the conclusion, even if I would come at a bit differently.

  4. @Brother Loring - thanks for adding that man. Something I had not considered due to the slightly different nature of the 2 unit's roles. But, the analysis should have included it. Cheers bro...make me better!

    @Chumb - I know that by removing the versatility of the unit I can strip it to 195 points, saving enough for a SHP to ride in a Razorback giving FNP to most of my troops... but how much does the HG squad lose in terms of its effectiveness due to only having 3 meltas?

    @TKE - How/what would you come to differently? Conclusion, unit set up?

    I'm really appreciating the community support guys, cheers.

  5. The Sanguinary Novitiate is not a Honour Guard so can't take any upgrades other than a jump pack.

    If you're planning to give one guy a flamer and a meltagun, then just forget what I said. :)