Sunday, February 10, 2013

Land Raider Crusader Sponsons and 6th Edition Disembarking Rules

I've mentioned before that I've keenly felt a lack of close combat ability in recent games. To rectify this I've been working on an extra large squad of Assault Terminators (four with lightning claws and three with thunder hammers/storm shields) to be led by a Chaplain in Terminator armor. With plenty of AP2 on our Cabal's gaming table, I'll be loading the unit into a Land Raider Crusader.

As I looked at the Crusader model, the question of where to place the hurricane bolters came to mind. Like the standard Land Raider, the Crusader has a front port and a rear port on each side: one houses a weapon sponson and the other is an access hatch. The position of each is up to the modeler. Traditionally, the lascannons on a standard Land Raider are placed in the rear ports. Fluffwise, this position seems reasonable; since the twin linked lascannons would use a lot of power, you'd probably want to place them closer to the tank's engine. Additionally, lascannons have a low rate of fire and would probably be of little use against the unit that's about to be assaulted. Thus, it wouldn't be too much of a problem to disembark troops in front of the main weapons. From a practical standpoint, lascannons have sufficient range that placing them farther back on the vehicle will have little effect on hitting the target, which will generally be far enough away that the rear-mounted lascannons' fields of fire will overlap. (Although nothing requires the modeller to mount the lascannons in the rear and there are plenty of models out there with forward mounted sponsons.)

Hurricane bolters in rear location
The Crusader's hurricane bolters are a different story. Given that hurricane bolters are most effective at 12" and that you want the bolters' fields of fire to overlap a relatively short distance in front of the Crusader, the most logical place to position the guns is near the front of the vehicle. While I've often heard that it's also traditional to put the hurricane bolters towards the back, GW artwork and several of GW's models show that the guns' position varies from tank to tank. I would think that a forward position would make the most sense from a fluff perspective; unlike the Land Raider, the Crusader is very likely to be rapid firing into the unit that will be assaulted. With the hurricane bolters blazing away as the assault squad disembarks, it would be unwise to place access doors in front of the guns.

Hurricane bolters in forward location
Unfortunately, 5th Edition made it difficult to place the weapon sponsons in the forward location while taking advantage of the vehicle's full carrying capacity. As the squad inside disembarked, all models were required to remain within 2" of an access point and had to maintain unit coherency. The Land Raider assault ramp is just barely large enough to disembark five Terminator models per those rules, meaning that if you loaded a Land Raider or a Land Raider Crusader to capacity (six and eight Terminators, respectively), one or more models would have to use a side hatch to disembark. The rear hatches are too far away from the assault ramp to easily maintain unit coherency and the need for one or more models to run around the sponsons would limit the unit's effective assault range. I've found several 40K forums where players admitted that they wanted to mount a Crusader's hurricane bolters up front but were worried about trying to disembark large squads.

Sixth Edition has made disembarking from a vehicle a lot easier and rectified the problem of Crusader weapon placement. From page 79 of the rulebook (emphasis in original):
When a unit disembarks, place the models one at a time, using the following method: place the first model in base contact with one of the vehicle's Access Points. If the model cannot be placed in base contact with the Access Point due to the vehicle's flying base, place it so its body is in contact with the Access Point. In either case, a disembarking model's base cannot be placed within 1" of an enemy model or within impassable terrain. The model can then make a normal move - Difficult and Dangerous Terrain tests should be taken as normal, but it must end its move wholly within 6" of the Access Point it disembarked from (we assume that any distance that is lost because of this has been used getting out of the Transport). Repeat this process for each model in the unit. At the end of the unit's move, all models must be in unit coherency.
"Wait, aren't we supposed to cluster around the ramp first?"
So, instead of having to cluster around the doors like in 5th Edition (a rule that seemed to be at odds with actual military practice), a squad can now conga line out of a single door, with the first models out making room for the ones behind them. Alternatively, they can leave from several doors that may be more than 2" apart, as long as everyone ends up in unit coherency at the end. This gives players a lot more flexibility when disembarking troops while also reflecting how real world troops would rush out of a transport.

Since 6th Edition allows a fully loaded Crusader to discharge all eight Terminators one at a time through the assault ramp and out to a distance of 6", the squad is no longer dependent on the vehicle's side hatches. Now players can model the Crusader with forward mounted hurricane bolters without worrying about being able to disembark a large squad.

I have to wonder how many Space Marine players have since modified their Crusaders to take advantage of the rule change.


  1. Seriously? What if a person had glued his Crusader back in 2004? You'd expect him to rip open his sponsons and reglue them or have his tank remain at inferior range compared to another guy with forward glued sponsons?

    In 6th ed rear glued sponsons serve no purpose whatsoever.

    So I say let it be artistic license and for gameplay sake treat them as if they were glued in the front, i.e. about 1.5" more range.

    Otherwise I'd have to start throwing a fit when someone with an ultramarines painted army starts saying he is using Iron Hands chapter tactics, lol.

    1. I'm rather lenient with my opponents and would allow them to claim forward mounted sponsons. However, I'm strictly WYSIWYG with my own army and would either modify my Land Raiders or play them as built. And I'm certain there are plenty of players that would insist that the effective location of their opponents' sponsons be represented on the model.

      As for modifying a model due to rules changes, I know that many IG players ripped the sponsons off their old Leman Russ Battle Tanks and Demolishers when the Lumbering Behemoth rule was changed. There could be a lot of anger if the upcoming Guard codex makes sponsons on Russes with ordnance weapons useful again.

      While I would allow it, I would definitely give a hard time to anybody who wanted to use another Chapter's tactics for an army painted in Ultramarine livery. First of all, what's to stop them from deciding which tactics to use based on their first glimpse of what their opponent has brought to the table? Second, it just seems like they're cynically jumping on the latest bandwagon rather than playing with an army or a Chapter that they actually love. Finally, it's an insult to Roboute Guilliman. If that cut on his throat ever miraculously heals, they're going to have some explaining to do.


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