How to Equip a Stormtalon Gunship

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This is something I've been pondering recently with the addition of the new flyer to my Space Marine army. There aren't many options (4 total) for the Stormtalon, so it shouldn't be that hard. It comes standard with an Assault Cannon and Heavy Bolter for 130pts. Only the Heavy Bolter can be substituted for 1 of 3 weapon options. Here's my thought process on each option:

  • Standard weapons @ 130pts. Initially, I thought about keeping it standard just to keep it cheap. However, 130pts is not cheap. You can get these weapons elsewhere in the codex for cheaper and/or on more durable platforms. This can be said about all the weapon options (except for the Skyhammer Missiles which are unique), but ultimately what kills this option for me is the Heavy Bolter doesn't play to the Flyer's strengths. I'm taking the Stormtalon because my army lacks anti-flyer capabilities, and while it's possible (but not likely) to hurt very low AV flyers, the Heavy Bolter is the weakest choice in this regard. Now if you're going for anti-infantry and want that on a Flying platform, then the standard loadout may be the option for you.
  • Twin-linked Lascannon @ 150pts. Having 2 non-TL lascannons would have been better, but that most likely would have driven up the points cost. Many have said that the twin-linking is unnecessary since the Talon can switch modes to gain BS 5. This isn't the whole story though. The 'Hover Strike' mode does not improve the BS when targeting Flyers or Skimmers, and lets not forget the vulnerability you open up when you switch to this mode. Flyers are durable because most units can only snap fire at them; changing the mode from Flyer to Skimmer removes that protection, and you can't move at all while performing a 'Hover Strike', so no jink saves either. Maybe I'll find a reason to switch modes once I start using these in games, but for now I can't think of any reason why you would ever want to risk changing out of Flyer mode, especially if all your guns are twin-linked. Anyway, the TL lascannon is a solid choice for taking out other flyers and high AV ground Mech alike.

  • Typhoon Missile Launcher @ 155pts. The Typhoon ML is one of the most flexible weapons in the Space Marine codex. 9 out of 10 Land Speeders that I encounter on the table are packing the Typhoon, and for good reason. On the Talon, this gun would be even more survivable with the extra point in AV and the fact that it can only be hit on 6's (unless the enemy has Skyfire). I originally thought this would be my goto choice, but the longer I think about it the more I feel kinda meh about this selection. Dual-purposing a model is nice, and the Typhoon certainly has that going for it, but I keep coming back to the reason I'm including a Talon in my list in the first place -- to take out enemy flyers first and foremost, then to help take out high AV targets. 2 shots at strength 8 is pretty close to a re-rollable strength 9 shot, but in that situation where I want the highest possible chance of taking out a flyer or AV13+ vehicle (which is only going to be more prevalent in 6th) I'd rather be shooting with the TL Lascannon.
  • Skyhammer Missile Launcher @ 155pts. The newest weapon to the Space Marine arsenal, however not that much different than an Autocannon; same exact Strength and AP but has slightly better range (60") and fires 1 more shot (3). The rate of fire matches the Heavy Bolter and the Strength 7 is decent when firing at low-mid AV or MC's. But you still need to roll 5's to glance AV12 flyers, and that's just not going to cut it for what I need out of this unit. I do like the range of this weapon and can see where hover striking the Talon in a corner if you can keep the enemy in range of your missiles while staying out of range from return fire could be fun. But that's a very specific scenario that may never occur, and it's not something I'm going to bet 155pts on.

In the end, I see myself going with the TL Lascannon option as it more adequately addresses the need in my current army list. None of the options are bad in my opinion, it just boils down to what your army needs more of. I'm going to paint up all the weapon options to have on hand and have already assembled the Talon so I can easily swap the weapons out or remove them for, god forbid, a weapon destroyed result. Either way, I'm looking forward to trying this thing out in my next game!

UPDATE: The rules / points for the Stormtalon have been updated via Death From The Skies