Monday, May 25, 2009

Advantages of Noise Marines

This article is a follow-on from my (much earlier) article on advantages of plague marines / Death Guard. There may be little here that most of you didn't already know, but I hope that at the very minimum it will be informative for new comers to the hobby.

The first question is what do Noise Marines (or Emperor's Children) have that other troops do not. There's two distinct answers to that. Firstly there is the statistic line: +1 Initiative compared to ordinary marines coupled with fearlessness. Secondly, there's the unique sonic weaponry that they have access to. Let's have a look at each in turn.

Higher Initiative.
How does a higher initiative help out? I have already covered some of the detail behind the mathematics of my argument when I considered what icon to give my chaos raptors some time ago. But I'm going to repeat the logic here so that you can see how a higher initiative would be of benefit.

We're going to have a unit of 10 noise marines go into melee with a squad of 10 "standard" imperial space marines.

Without any special upgrades (i.e. a power fist or power weapon) for a champion, all 10 noise marines will strike before the imperials. They'll cause 2.583 unsaved wounds on the imperials. Assuming that the imperial sergeant is still around (worst luck!) after the noise marines strike, there are the sergeant and 6.417 ordinary marines left over. The total number of attacks from the imperials is therefore reduced to (2x6.417)+3 = 15.834. These will be expected to cause 1.320 unsaved wounds. Hence the difference in wounds caused dW is 1.218 (an increase of some 46% compared to "normal" chaos marines).

What happens if the noise champion has a power fist?
This case reduces to 9 ordinary noise marines hitting first on the charge, the imperials striking back, and then the power fist. The 9 noise marines will inflict an average of 2.250 unsaved wounds on the imperials. Striking back (again, with the sergeant still alive), the imperials then inflict (2x6.75)+3 = 16.5 attacks that cause 1.375 wounds. The champion (whom we'll assume is still alive) causes an additional 1.250 unsaved wounds. The difference in wounds is 2.125 in this case.

What about the noise champion having a power weapon?
The 9 ordinary noise marines are still striking first and causing 2.250 unsaved wounds. The noise champion also gets in on the act early here, causing an additional 1.000 unsaved wounds for a total of 3.25. The opposition marines then take their turn, with (2x5.75)+3 attacks that only cause 1.208 unsaved wounds. Hence a difference in wounds of 2.04.

Although the wound difference is slight, the higher initiative means that the champion will always get to strike before any return strikes (hence avoiding any surprise wounds). Hence, if you're a chaos space marine playing that is using noise marines, I'd recommend taking a power weapon over a power fist for your noise marine champion.

Sonic Weapons.
Whether they function in deep space aside (presumably there is a psychic component to the sonic damage?!), sonic weapons have some great potential.

First up is the sonic blaster. Its basically the same as a bolter, but can be fired as assault 2, or heavy 3. That is very impressive - being on the move and able to shoot twice at strength 4 up to 24 inches means that noise marines have a troublesome range of 30 inches. Some serious maneuvering in to cover will be required to avoid a torrent of fire from them. With the alternative of heavy 3, the noise marines can lay down a withering amount of rounds. But to see exactly how good this is, let's compare it to a ten man strong chaos marine squad with bolters that are targeting 10 loyalist marines at 24 inches away.

The humble bolter will shoot once at this range, assuming that the shooters stay stationary. With BS=3, the chaos marines score 6.67 hits, cause 3.33 wounds, of which 1.11 will be likely to stick (i.e. fail the 3+ saving throw).

The sonic blaster can pump out double the amount of shots, hence it'll cause 2.22 unsaved wounds. However, the noise marines can also back off, effectively taking them out of range of return bolter fire from the loyalists! By extension, if they stay stationary, that mean 3.33 unsaved wounds using heavy 3. Quite a torrent of fire - equivalent to 3 squads of ordinary marines all with bolters.

Secondly, there's the doom siren (only available to the noise champion). It's the same as a heavy flamer, but with AP3. That means that it would be very handy in a unit of noise marines expecting to meet an opposition head on in melee -- especially when coupled with sonic blasters using the assault 2 mode.

Lastly, there is the blast master. Its great at range when staying stationary (S8, AP3, heavy 1, pinning), but can also help with moving troops (S5, AP4, assault 2, pinning). But to be honest, if you're a chaos playing utilizing noise marines, then I would expect you'd want them on the move. As such, the blast master is probably not worth the points cost since a sonic blaster can perform almost as well on the move.

Final Thoughts.
I'll leave you with this thought. Consider a unit of 10 noise marines with a noise champion. The noise champion has a power weapon and a doom siren; the other 9 all have sonic blasters. Total points cost = 295. Pricey?, most certainly.

They're approaching a unit of 10 loyalists and are ready to charge. They firstly shoot their sonic weapons (assault 2) and cause 2.00 (rounded up) wounds from the sonic blasters. The doom siren might add on to this another 2 or more wounds.
In the assault, they attack first and inflict a further 3.75 wounds. We're already up to about 7.75 (ish) wounds, and the imperials haven't even hit back yet; let alone thought about falling back and not knowing any fear. They can certainly cause superlative alpha strikes on other (marine equivalent) units!

Hope you've enjoyed this and got something from it :)


Raptor1313 said...

As ever, the analsyis hits some good points; the I of the Noise Marines and the Sonic Weapons are their real selling points. Being Fearless helps, most of the time, too.

I think you've missed a couple areas, though.

One's in terms of capabilities. Noise marines will only ever really be able to take on infantry. You can give them a powerfist and a blastmaster in order to engage harder targets, but that's it. Most folks will keep the power weapon to capitalize in the I5, but that leaves them in need of rescue if a Dreadnought, Wraithlord, or something else with T5-6+ assaults them you're going to lose 'em or have to rescue them.

Additionally, the Noise Marines will never really shoot any vehicle to death. They can do ok at glancing AV10, but the Blastmaster's also a ~40pt investment, and just a single shot.

Now, to me it seems there are really two ways to run Noise Marines and get the most out of 'em...

Give the champ a Doom Siren, upgraded weapon, and run them in a transport for assaulty goodness, or run them on foot as you suggested with massed guns. It still doesn't address their inability to deal with armor at range, and I feel that in a smaller, more elite army you really want to add as much versatility to your units as you can.

Conversely, if you are bringing Noise Marines on foot, I'd think about bringing Dreadnoughts (with multi-meltas and extra armor) and perhaps Daemon Princes, and Oblits to complete the army, since they'll hopefully make up for the shortcomings of the Noise Marines.

jabberjabber said...

Absolutely - the noise marines must be "contextualized" as part of a larger force to get the most out of them.

suneokun said...

Seems to me that Noise Marines make for an impressive unit with the combination of the long range assault weapon AND the i5. They seem to encapsulate the best features of a Tau force (long range, great firepower) while avoiding the downside of being pants in combat!

Nice Synopsis!

G said...

Fist off, its a great analysis. One thing missing from the Blastmaster is that it is a small blast weapon.

I like to field either 5 or 6 man squads with just a BM (Blastmaster) upgrade, there GREAT for setting on an objective and being able to drop templates over a large section of the field. I spend any points needed to close to the final Game points cost on sonic blasters.

Master Darksol said...

RE: Power Fist vs. Power Weapon ... I think the math is off in "additional unsaved wounds" vs Imperial Marines.

Power Fist looks right to me:
(you said assuming charge)

3 attacks
x 0.5 (4+ to hit)
x 5/6 (2+ to wound)
=1.25 unsaved wounds

... but your Power Weapon total looked unusually high to me:
(still assuming charge)

4 attacks
x 0.5 (4+ to hit)
x 0.5 (4+ to wound)
=1.0 unsaved wounds, not 1.5

Am I missing something?

... also, you mentioned in the Sonic Weaponry section that the Noise Marines can "back off" staying out of range of standard Marine return fire. ... what rule allows them to move after shooting?

Other than these two things I found confusing, I agree pretty readily with your review.

jabberjabber said...

Hi G:- yes - the blast template can certainly help a lot in those situations - thanks for the feedback!

Hi Master Darksol:- you're right about the power weapons - my mistake entirely. (I think I was thinking 3+ to hit ... I spent too long considering BS, doh.) The article has been amended accordingly - thanks for your careful observation! I'd still suggest a power weapon over a power fist since I'd want to take advantage of the higher initiative and not risk getting the champion removed before his I=1 power fist attack back.

In terms of movement, I'm suggesting moving out of range, then firing (as assault 2) rather than the other way around. Since the opposing marines must move back in to range in their turn, they cannot shoot up to 24inches with their bolt guns. Hope that makes sense!

Thanks again for the feedback - very valuable as always.

Master Darksol said...

Yeah, I would still take the Power Weapon over the fist because of the Initiative bonus.

I'm with ya now on the move out of range + shoot. Thanks for the clarification. ;)

Skarvald the Troll-faced said...

The way I've seen them played was as a foot-slogging unit that managed to hide in this broken bastion. They were able to shoot at units, didn't have to move, thus getting a nice 24'' range bubble all around, getting 3 shots each. Add that to the fact that he had Obliterators on top and he made it clear that I would need to come to him if I wanted to deal with his unit. Think about it - it's difficult to out-shoot such a unit, especially when they are getting cover, they are good in close combat with their higher Initiative and Power Weapon and if you disembark from your vehicle and fail to charge them through difficult terrain you will get flamed and shot to death.

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