Is the Deathray Broken? Or are all its victims just whinging?

I have been using my Doomscythe for a few games and it’s starting to generate hate. Now this is not always a bad thing, but I am not a power gamer and I don’t want to alienate friends. The main issue is with the main gun. The Deathray is not a popular weapon, so I thought I would spend some time looking at much maligned weapon. The Deathray is a cutting beam. It slices along killing anything it passes over. It not called the ‘let’s cuddle ray’ or the ‘let’t be nice to each other ray’ it’s a DEATHRAY, it’s not going to be nice to you and it’s not going to be your friend. Currently only 1 unit can access this doom laden bringer of destruction, The Doomscythe, however a land based version has been seen, The new Forgeworld sentry Pylon gets it!

Ok, let’s start with the Stats.

Range

Strength

AP

Type

12” (Speacial)

10

1

Heavy 1

 

That’s a bit good for any weapon, but it’s the special rule the can break this weapon. Basically you choose a target point within 12” and nominate point within 3D6” draw a straight line between the 2 points and every unit (friend or foe) suffers a number of hits equal to the number of models the line passes over.

E.G. your Deathray fires and you target a unit of marines lined up on hill. You roll 12 on the 3D6 and draw a line over the unit 12” long. It passes over 7 Marines, so you take 7 S10 ap 1 hits! 

Yes, that’s what I said 7 Hits, not Shots but hits. You don’t roll to hit if the line passes over you, your hit. Now you still have to remove the targets nearest to the firing model as per normal rules. But let face it with S10 AP1, your going lose most of the 7 Marines. At S10 AP 1 it will make a mess of ‘mech too. Evan Land raiders will worry about this one.

The one disadvantage of the weapon is that it can’t hit fliers. That was FAQ’d.

So how broken is it?

Let’s take our poor Marine unit. Let’s help them out and put a building in front of them. Safe I here you say? Well, No. all I need to do as a Necron play is put first target point within 12” anywhere on the Battlefield, roll me 3D6 choose my end point and the shoot is fired. I firmly believe that you should be able to see the first and 2nd targets point, but the rules don’t make that clear, the 2nd Target point can be behind our building and the poor old marines get hit, despite the fact that the Building is blocking LOS!  They will get the Cove save, but still hitting a unit you can’t see is a bit harsh.

Lets try something a bit braver. The Marines have charged the nearest unit of warriors. Safe in Combat you may think? Sadley not despite the core rules saying you can’t shoot into combat, this can! The rules say that you can’t shoot units locked in combat. But the Deathray does not do this. Its firing at its target point. If it passes over a unit then that unit is hit. You don’t randomise, any model it passes over gets hit. So our brave Marines are fighting 20 Warriors, but are lined up nicely on one line, a clever player may still hit more marines than Warriors. And with the Regen rolls any necron Player will risk the hits anyway. You get to roll before the combat is fought. (end of each subphase)

As you can see this weapon is nasty and in the wrong, evil metal skeletal hands, it is so broken. At 175 pts the Doomscythe is expensive, but not that much. Alongside the Deathray you get a Twin linked Tesla Destructor. So it’s a good buy. Facing any army with 3 is scary. But what are the ways to comb at it? Does it have any flaws?

Well as a marine player as well a Necron player, I think it is flawed and can be beat with some ease if you plan for it. I also think that if you know what your opp is lightly to use and your fail to plan, then as the say in the old pink duck in handhold city “you’re gonna die.” (Douglas Adams Quote) Here are my basic ideas.

Deployment and model craft*

I have had such fun shooting up neat rows of Marines. If you want to line up like soldiers on parade, well you asking for a Deathray to the face. When facing Deathray, stagger your units and remember the tesla rule of 7. Never, ever put 2 units within 7” of another unit, the arc rules alone will make a mess on that. This also reduces the impact of this weapon. Lets go back to our poor old marines. If the deply in a 2 rows, 2” apart, with every marine 2” away from a squad member, the maximum hits is 5. Cleaver deployments can reduce this to 4. You just save 2 or 3 Marines from the Death Ray. If you Combat squad them, this drops to a max of 3. That’s saved another one! And yes when the Tesla Speaks, you will lose the whole Combat Squad. That’s still better than losing the whole squad.

The same applies to all aspects of deployment. ‘castling’ up your tanks behind a big unit of troops won’t stop a flier from slicing you to buts. You need to spread out!

*model craft, my term for how you deploy, position, move and control your models

Range

The Deathray is a Short ranged weapon. It’s got to get close to the action.  Use this. If you can get in close to his troops with some nasty units, always a good plan when facing Necrons, then the flier’s minimum range is a major factor. Personally, I like the old Rhino Rush. Deploy up close to the deployment zone, turn 1 Flat out and your now around 6” from your Opp deployment Zone.  Turn 2 get out, now up you’re in the Deployment zone and ready to blow the crap out of the necrons. Even if your Ride is wrecked, when you get out, you’re already in the opp’s deployment Zone! When the Flier arrives in turn 2 (lets not mess things up with C’tan shards and their shenanigans) they will pass straight over your troops by turn 3. So your assault troops will only take 1 Deathray hit. Orks can do this better than most, but Dark elder wytches are awesome at this too.

Exploit its rules

The Deathray can’t snap fire. (Any weapon that does not use BS to hit can’t snap fire (main rulebook p 13) so make it Jink! That stops the hits from the Ray. Ok, the Tesla will still mess things up. The Deathray also can’t fire at flyers, so the SM Talon is a must, again think about its range and turning radius. The New Tau flier has turret mounted weapons, as does the Talon, Raven and Thunderhawk. The Doomscythe does not. Use this to your adavantage.

AA

Still surprised about the lack of AA I see. The imperial troops have 2 awesome units. The Motis Dread (and the even better Contemptor Mortis) and the Hydra at 75 pts this is a stunning weapon that scares the crap out of me. The Weapons all have a range 4 times greater than the Deathray. Clever deployment (near to the Front line, but in cover) can cover the entire battle front. As the Hydra comes in a squad of 3 for 225 pts, this is a no brainer. (Oh, and GW are releasing a plastic one soon!) As more 6th ed codex come out, I am sure the AA flakk will increase! Take it, use it, and take back the skies!

So that’s my thoughts. I do think the weapon is broken. Here how I would love to see it change.

1-it causes a number of shots compared to the number of models that it hits. You roll to hit as normal.

2-Any hits in to combat are randomised.

3-You must be able to see both Target points. Any model you can’t see, can’t be hit.

However, I also think some of the fault lies with the Victims. If you don’t plan for this weapon, don’t moan about getting your arse handed to you on a plate. The Necron force is not like fighting orks. If you’re not changing your list,   expect to lose. They are a unique opponent that will test your normal approaches. The Deathray proves that. You have to play clever or die. 

Until next time, see you across the battle table.

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