Thursday, March 24, 2011

A tale of two transports - the ubiquitous rhino vs. the dark eldar raider

So I'm loving the Dark Eldar of late and want to compare the Dark Eldar Raider versus the old reliable Space Marine Rhino today.

Both have been around for a long time and obviously the Rhino is much more popular. Dark Eldar continues to be a fringe army even with the recent release of the new codex. I've used both, the Raider not nearly as long as the Rhino seeing I'm very new to playing Dark Eldar. The Rhino is a staple transport for most any Space Marine army. Back when we Blood Angels players had to use the PDF codex I used some Rhinos in my army because I felt that tactical Marines were better than assault Marines at that point in time. That's all changed drastically now with the release of the new Blood Angels codex. If you visit this blog often you'll know that the only transport I ever use is a Stormraven in my current Blood Angels Descent of Angels army. Now that I have recently started to play Dark Eldar I have come very much to greatly appreciate the Raider.

NOTE - I will be using tactical Marines and Warriors for the purpose of the analysis since both are troop choices and are basically equivalent units to each parent codex. Using these two squads helps to simply the overall comparison but does not overly detract from it's value.

Basic Rhino Specifications
The Rhino is a very cheap transport for what you get... 35 points base cost, AV11 on the front and sides, close topped and two Marines can fire out of the top hatch. It has a stormbolter for it's main weapon. The Rhino can transport up to ten Marines in power armor. It also has a smoke launcher that can be used once a game to provide a 4++ cover save and can repair itself if immobilized on a roll of 6 on 1d6 during the owning player's shooting phase. You can also equip the Rhino with extra armor but at 15 points the cost is a bit prohibitive as you start to then lose out on the bargain base value. Even at AV11 the Rhino is quite resilient and can often weather an enemy shooting phase if it's got some good cover. That's certainly a lot of value for the base points and I don't think you can go wrong there if you want a mechanized force for your Space Marine army. The two alternatives are the Razorback and Droppod. I am going to focus on the Rhino since I feel it's the best equivalent when compared to the Dark Eldar Raider.

Tactical Value of the Rhino
The Rhino provides a safe haven for the Marines inside and can move them onto an objective. You can also use your Rhinos to provide cover for other units in your army such as a Landraider. The Rhino can move up to 12" (unless it's a Blood Angels Lucifer patterned chassis), so it's quite simple to use. I will mention that I think dozer blades are well worth the cost at a mere 5 points... Immobilizing your transport does unfortunately happen sometimes when entering or leaving difficult terrain and can lose you a game, especially if it occurs late in the game when you need to grab or contest an objective... Murphy's Law is always in effect!

Tank Shocking
You can also tank shock with the Rhino. Tank shocking enemy units off of objectives late in the game is a vital tactic and often people forget you can do this since the Rhino is a tank. There is also the chance that the targeted enemy unit might break as well if they fail their leadership test. It's by no means a sure thing but it can work if you're in a bit of a pinch and is certainly better than the alternative - which is you end up losing the game by one objective or draw when you could have won.

Basic Raider Specifications
The Raider is an open topped all around AV10 fast skimmer and can transport up to ten Dark Eldar. It's equipped with a dark lance for it's main weapon which it can fire if it moves up to 12". The Raider can move flat-out up to 24" and it then has a 4++ cover save. It costs 60 points at base value. The only upgrade I typically see worth the cost is the flickerfield which costs 10 points and provides a 5++ invulnerable save. There is some value I believe in the shock prow since you can then tank shock and ram which only costs 5 points and is a nice option when combined with a full flat-out move of 24". Certainly I wouldn't equip every raider with a shock prow but I can certainly see it's merit worth it's use on one to two Raiders - you can then tank shock enemy units off of objectives and a S8 ram attack on a Chimera's side armor is not shabby either.  
A raider is twice the cost of a basic rhino when equipped with a flickerfield but I have found it often to be more than twice as good in value.

Tactical Value of the Raider
The Raider is much faster than the Rhino and embarked squads can launch an assault from it if the skimmer has moved no more than 12". Most Dark Eldar units have fleet so with the 2" disembark you're looking at up to a 26" charge arc. That's a lot of distance covered quickly, thus being one of the Raider's main advantages over a conventional transport such as the Rhino. Space Marines have to pay in the order of 200-250+ points to charge out of a moving vehicle plus Dark Eldar have assault units which are equal to assault Marines/terminators, if not even better in many ways. So sure you aren't often going to charge Marines with your Warriors but the value of being able to charge from a moving transport is a serious advantage over the Rhino, thus it should be mentioned. Warriors do just fine though versus units such as Fire Warriors, Imperial Guardsmen and even Space Marine Scouts.

The dark lance is another big advantage of the Raider over a Rhino, even when compared versus a non BA Razorback. Dark lances reduce most armor to AV12 and is good at shaking/stunning enemy vehicles. You can embark Warriors with a blaster which provides yet another lance to it's arsenal. One of the main objectives when playing against a mechanized army such as Imperial Guard is to shake and stun the big guns as you work your way into their battle line. Too often people feel that they must destroy a significant portion of the enemy army during the first turn... It's not going to happen often versus a mechanized army such as IG so you have to develop a multi tiered approach to beating them - the Raider fills in quite nicely in this role.

So there you have it from soup to nuts. The Rhino is a slow transport when compared to the Raider but it's the more resilient of the two in the hands of most players and so cheap by comparison. In truth though the Raider can be just as survivable if not more so with it's small footprint, 4++ cover save anytime it moves flat-out and the use of the flickerfield. Warriors and tactical Marines play the same roles in both armies. I feel that the way the game is played now in fifth edition both the Raider and the Warriors are superior to their MEQ counterparts.

So do you think the Raider in general is a good buy compared to the Imperium's ubiquitous transport or would you rather have the two Rhinos given the choice?

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