Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Unit Analysis: Grey Knight Techmarine

After doing a lot of traveling over the weekend with a copy of the GK dex in hand, I had time to pour over it's contents and start making semi-educated decisions about relative unit strengths and weaknesses.  Before I get to list ideas and dilemmas (the GK dex is so balanced that nearly every list choice you make is a give or take) I'd like to get deeper into a unit that jumped out at me as extremely useful, the Techmarine.

This is a great unit from a game design perspective.  It's relatively cheap, has tons of good options, but since it's only a single wound, it isn't overpowering.  I just love it.

Its base wargear is a servo-harness, boltgun, power weapon, and grenades.  He comes with artificer armor.  He has the following abilities...

Blessing of Omnissiah: On a 4+ (thanks to the servo-harness) the techmarine can repair a Weapon Destroyed or Immobilized result on a vehicle he is in base to base with during the shooting phase.  This is very strong, especially in combination with Venerable Dreadnoughts.  The most likely result any Ven Dread will suffer is WD or Immobilized, and this nullifies those pretty well.  Venerable Dreads are already annoying, and this makes them significantly more annoying.  And it works for more than just Dreadnoughts.  If you are playing a Razorback heavy list, it is also very strong.  Repairing a weapon destroyed on a Razorback is very demoralizing for your opponent, and Razorbacks give the Techmarine a nice bunker to sit in.  Since games between properly built lists often come down to battles of attrition (which GK are bad at due to higher point costs) the repair ability can help even that out.

Bolster Defenses: Nominate a Ruin in your deployment zone, for the remainder of the game this ruin grants a 3++ cover save.  Speaking of annoying.  Put those hard to kill, easy to repair Venerable Dreads in a ruin with 3+ cover saves.  Wow.  That is a Dreadnought who would take a metric ton of firepower to kill.  This power is VERY situational.  If you don't have a ruin in your deployment zone, it does nothing for you, but when it does work out for you, it can be insanely powerful.

Psychic Powers: Hammerhand and Reconstruction.  Reconstruction allows you to re-roll failed Blessing of Omnissiah rolls.  Reconstruction makes Blessing reliable.  The drawback is he is only LD8, so the psychic power itself isn't that reliable. 

This package comes in at a base cost of 90 points.  Not too shabby.  Let's see what upgrades are available.

Replace Boltgun with Stormbolter, 3pts.  No thanks.  Generally speaking, your Techmarine should spend his shooting phase repairing something, or else be too far away to shoot things.  If he can shoot stuff, he can be shot back, and that is rarely a good thing.  I don't see much need to pay for this upgrade.

Replace Servo-harness with Conversion Beamer, 20pts.  This is interesting.  He sacrifices reliability in his repairing rolls for the ability to inflict long range shooting.  The ability to fire Str 10 AP 1 shots in an army that doesn't have much long range firepower is very useful and bears consideration.  If your list doesn't need the repair abilities for some reason, and doesn't have Dreadnoughts or Henchmen for long range firepower, these can be a good alternative.  330 points for 3 of them is a cheap way to fill up your Elites slots, and add significant firepower to your list.  Plus they can fire these out of the top hatch of a Rhino sitting waaaay back in cover (hopefully a 3+ Ruin).  

Replace Power Weapon with a Nemesis Force Weapon of varying points costs.  I'd pass on these.  Regardless of your build, you don't want your Techmarine in close combat.  And if he somehow finds himself in close combat, a NFW isn't going to save his bacon.

May take up to 3 Servo-skulls, 3pts each.  Ummm yes?  This combos extremely well with Bolster Defenses.  You went through the trouble of creating a tremendous shooting bunker, so make sure you get to use it by preventing infiltrators and scouts from getting an early charge against it.  Incidentally, this is a rare place to get Skulls outside of the HQ section.  If you cannot take Skulls on your HQ for some reason, here is a cheap place to get them in.

Grenades, varying points.  Again, his job isn't to be in close combat, so don't spend points on close combat upgrades if you can avoid it.

Orbital Strike Relay, 50pts.  This doesn't combo very well with Conversion Beamer, since they fulfill the same roll.  It costs more than a Beamer, and I am hard pressed to suggest buying a 50 point shooting weapon for a BS4 character.  Believe me, you will feel an intense sting with every miss.

So basically, the best two builds are a naked Techmarine with Skulls (Repairman), and a Techmarine with Beamer and Skulls (Zapper).  99 and 119 points, respectively.  Which you opt to run depends heavily on what you plan to do with your Elites section.  If you run two Venerable Dreadnoughts with TLAC x2, I would say the synergy with the Repairman is too good to pass up.  He make fills out the third choice in the Elites section and makes the first two choices significantly better.  Alternatively, if you plan on having two or more Razorbacks plinking away in your deployment zone for the whole game, this is a natural choice.  He will keep them plinking which is a nightmare for your opponent.  This guy is most useful at point levels 2k and above where you can spend 100 points for utility and not worry that he doesn't directly add firepower to your list.

The Zapper comes into his own when you don't take Venerable Dreads.  3x Zappers sitting in Rhinos or Chimeras in your backfield is a cheap way to add 3 Str 10 AP 1 guns to your list.  In an expensive codex, this is a great way to shave points and add firepower without compromising much.  I think these shine especially well at 1500 or less points, where the dichotomy between the firepower they bring and the low points cost makes them even more attractive.

So clearly, these guys have a place in bunches of types of lists and the Techmarine is the type of unit that competitive players should like: they are overlooked by an opponent, and they reward the user's play skills.  Your opponent will ignore the Techmarine, or even scoff at it, until he fires 12 lascannons at your Venerable Dreadnought only to find that all that shooting didn't even scratch the paint.  That's when he will get a sinking feeling when he realizes the game just got 10x harder than he thought it was going to be.


  1. Hm, interesting (and cool) thoughts on Techmarines actually being useful in an army! If you have the points, the repair guy sounds good in certain lists.

    I kind of think the shooty one isn't going to be as efficient as you think he is though- he may 'only' cost 120 points (which may or may not be worth it) but the way you're required to play with him (in a Rhino) he also costs 40 more points for said Rhino, as well as the unit who bought the rhino not having a ride any more.

    Not that he's terribad- I just think that the repair dude is better :)

    I'm glad you recognize that the upgrade to the ruins isn't the pure win some people on the internets seem to be assuming it is. Sure, most boards have ruins of some sort, but it's not something you can depend on being in your deployment zones. The 3+ cover save is also sometimes hard to garner for vehicles, depending on the position and facing of the ruins.

    Fun to think that techmarines might start making an appearance in competitive lists though :)

  2. Well, he is an IC so he can join a unit in your backfield. If you have Henchmen with Jokero or whatever has long range in your backfield he can join those and contribute to the shooty. So it really isn't taking away from another unit's transport in every case.

    And when I say "only" 120 I understand how bad that sounds. But compared to a venerable dread (which it competes with for that slot) it's pretty damn affordable.

  3. You don't need to worry about BS4 and misses with the orbital strike relay as it's a blast template and it ignores the firer's BS(and hits on the scatter dice for that matter)