Friday, January 13, 2012

Marneus Calgar/Hive Tyrant Comparison

In a previous post I expressed some disappointment in the performance of my borrowed Hive Tyrant. Although I love the Astartes, I have often wished that they had access to some sort of monstrous creature. (Yes, I'll admit that I've been jealous of the Grey Knight's Dreadknight.) But the first time I ever used a non-Marine army has made me rethink things.

Just for fun, let's compare the Hive Tyrant I played with to the Ultramarine's answer to the monstrous creature; Marneus Calgar. Calgar costs 265 points in his fancy Terminator armor, the Armour of Antilochus (I don't think they even make the Calgar model in standard power armor anymore). The Hive Tyrant I used that night cost me 205 points. For a closer comparison to Calgar, let's assume that I had paid the additional 40 points for a 2+ armor save, giving me a 245 point monstrous creature.

Did GW even try to hide the fact that they were ripping off Aliens?
[Model found on the Web]

Both Calgar and the Tyrant have four wounds, so they're on equal ground there. Although our upgraded Hive Tyrant now has a 2+ armor save, Calgar's Terminator armor gives him the same 2+ armor save, plus he has a 4+ Iron Halo save. If Calgar takes a Broadside railgun shot to the face (S10 AP1), he still has a 50/50 chance of coming through it unscathed. The Hive Tyrant won't do quite so well. And since Calgar isn't a monstrous creature, he can be mixed in with another squad that can be used to soak up wounds. Although the Hive Tyrant's higher toughness prevents it from being instantly killed by high strength weapons, Calgar's Eternal Warrior rule ensures that he won't be instantly killed by a lucky Krak missile either. Plus, unlike the Hive Tyrant, Calgar is protected from Instant Death by Force Weapons, most unique power weapons, etc. For all intents and purposes, it looks like Marneus Calgar is more likely to survive a march across the table. In fact, Calgar doesn't even have to march across the field. He can teleport in, land in a drop pod, or cruise around in a Land Raider (one of the few cases where the Land Raider's passenger is more expensive than the tank itself).

Can you tell that Calgar is proud
of the Ultramarines Chapter?
[Model by Games Workshop]

Calgar has a higher ballistic skill than the Hive Tyrant (5 versus 3). Although Calgar's special bolters don't have nearly the strength of a Hive Tyrants' Heavy Venom Cannon, they have a better AP value (2 versus 4). Besides, Space Marines tend to spread out their heavy weapons rather than depending almost exclusively on weapons carried by HQs or Heavy Support units. In an army that has few long-range tank-killing weapons (e.g., Tyranids), it seems like a questionable choice to put one of your precious heavy weapons on a model that is clearly designed for close combat.

In close combat the Chapter Master has an equal number of attacks, although the paired Gauntlets of Ultramar effectively give him one more attack than the Hive Tyrant. However, the Tyrant's higher skill means that he'll hit Calgar on 3s whereas the Ultramarine will need 4s to hit the big bug. Calgar will be hitting with strength 8 thanks to his power fists; the Hive Tyrant will be hitting with strength 6. This means that each will wound the other on a roll of 2+. Calgar has an advantage in the form of his Titanic Might rule, which allows him to re-roll all failed attempts to wound. The Tyrant could have the same ability, but it would have to give up its ranged weapon for it. Since the Hive Tyrant has no invulnerable save, it will be unable to save any of the power wounds that Calgar inflicts on it. Statistically, Calgar's Iron Halo will bear the brunt of half of all wounds he receives. It's the latter advantage that would probably give the Ultramarine's Chapter Master the edge.

The Hive Tyrant's biggest advantages over Marneus Calgar are 1) Calgar's initiative drops to 1 when he uses his power fists (although he also has a power sword if you're willing to lose the strength 8 attacks), 2) the bug's higher toughness makes it less likely that the weapons carried by standard troops will wound it, and 3) the Chapter Master can't hope to match the Monstrous Creature's 2d6 penetration against armor.

Admittedly, my experience with monstrous creatures is limited to playing with or against Hive Tyrants and Carnifexes, so it's likely that my bias is based on too little information. However, it seems that they're not quite the unstoppable terrors I originally thought they would be. It also looks like standard Codex Marines can easily compensate for the absence of such units with special characters or with elite units such as thunder hammer and storm shield-equipped Terminator squads.

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