Just to update, I've been busy and the first drafts of "The Commander's Field Handbook" for both Tau and Eldar are completed. These are currently standing ready for editing and a solid proof-read as we speak ... so patience, my pretties...
My concern over RoughRiders is growing, despite being maligned in the existing codex through being overpriced (at GW, £7 each!) and having weird options on the field ... they are looking at becoming scarcer. Check here to see my post on rough rider reinvigorated.
Since then, I am pleased to hear that GW are proposing plastic rough riders - clearly they too must be reading my blog! Yeah right ... but I'm imagining sales of metal rough riders were - well - low.
I'm growing increasingly depressed for my rough-riders. With such a glutony of fast attack choices (hellhound squadrons, Sentinel Squadrons, Valkyries) I'm struggling to find a place for my rough riders - except...
Rough Riders as Anti Deep Strike Deterrent and Tank support
Rough Riders are the ultimate anti deep-strike deterrent. Blocking LOS and then killing the assaulters in a devastating charge.
The changes in the rules to 5th edition have seen a significant shift in the metagame from long ranged high S low AP weaponry like bright lances and lascannons towards the use of plentiful meltaguns to achieve the kill. With the increase in AV14 and AV13 vehicles (battlewagon, leman russes upgrade etc), vehicles are tougher than ever at range and the combination of 2D6 penetration and +1 on the damage chart makes melta weapons the fire and forget weapon for taking tanks out.
Unfortunately, this means that if an army has a drop troop melta option it's usually at the top of the 'to take' list. Plasma used to be the steadfast of every 40k army (now relegated down past the lasguns thanks to the significant buff in cover saves), and melta has stolen it's mantle.
So what does this mean for tanks. Well out of all the variety you can get in the new codeci, you can pretty much guarantee that a deep striking unit (Broadside, stealthsuit, Terminators, Stormtroopers, chaos) are going to attempt to a "do or die" attack on your valuable tanks.
So how do you counter this: RoughRiders.
You wanna piece of me ... better talk to my horsey friends.
In W40k (as in every conflict since WW1), cavalry charges are best left to the fantasy boys. As I've learnt from experience, glorious charges at embedded Tau infantry results in very dead horsies. Horsies need cover (preferably of the big, bulletproof you can't see me type) and usually this would prove a problem, do to their large size. Thankfully, even Tyranid warriors can benefit from a small amount of vegitation covering their toes - and gives the Horse a very useful role.
Step - Stair Cover Save Defence.
In Tyranid circles, there is a concept of defence with is all about hiding behind scale. A winged tyrant is enormous, and so getting him 50% behind anything is tricky. He certainly couldn't hide behind a group of gargoyles. However, Winged warriors are infantry (and therefore can hide behind a 4+ fig leaf if required), so by placing the winged warriors behind the Gargoyles, and the Tyrant behind the Warriors (with their own wings unfurled) everybody gets a 4+ invulnerable cover save (unless there are crafty Tau pathfinders around).
The same tactic can and should be applied to RoughRiders. The model on a horse measures at least 2 1/4 inches long and high. This means that 10 roughriders, nose to tail cover 22 and a 1/2 inches. Unlike other infantry, the bulk of one rough rider covers approximately 50% of the rearview of a Leman Russ or Chimera. 4+ cover save for your vehicle.
Additionally I gave some considerable thought to the deployment of the Roughriders, given their larger bases they are very easy to spread out. This in turn allows you to block considerable lines of sight and stop anything deepstriking closer than 6". This further increases the 'deterrance' factor.
With the roughriders in this format, they effectively stop all 6" deepstrikes adjacent to the tank. Guardsmen could do this (and should at the front of the tank), but won't block LOS.
In return the roughriders get a nice mobile pillbox to hide behind and benefit from a 4+ cover save in return.
Case Examples (Or horsey, horsey don't you stop...)
So what happens? Well all of the below assume a successful Deepstrike (without deviating into the roughrider etc), but are forced outside the 6" ideal killzone. Each attacking unit will be priced at approximately 140-150 pts (ie the same value as the tank)... the tank is defended by 6 rough riders (as per the photo's) at with 6 lances and 2 meltaguns @ approximately 86pts.
Encounter One: 2 Tau Crisis Suits [152pts] Team Leader with Fusion Blaster and twin linked missile pod (with a multitracker), one with a Fusion Blaster and twin-linked plasma rifles and 2 gundrones.
The Killteam target the tank, but without the 6" melta bonus they're success rates have dropped, even against rear armour. Rather than a 50% kill rate on 2 shots with a good chance of detroying a weapon or immobilising (not so good.), they only have an approximately 25% chance (on two shots). Good odds.
Rough Riders retaliate and strike first, resulting in over 6.38 wounds (6 shots plus charge) with no saves. Neither the Crisis Suits or the gundrones survive to retaliate.
Encounter Two: 4 Tau Stealth Suits [152pts] Team leader with fusion blaster and target lock and 3 Stealthsuits with burst cannon. 2 Gun drones. Will your opponent risk it and go for the rear armour or will he split his fire and attack both the rear armour and the rough rider threat?
Option 1: All against rear armour = 12.5% chance of a kill on the fusion blaster plus just over a 25% chance on the burstcannons/pulse carbines = 37.5%
Option 2: 11.6 kills on the roughriders (assuming no saving throws), which wipes them out and increases the fusion blaster shots effectiveness to just over 25%.
They either face return fire from the tank or an assault from the roughriders (although probably both). The rough riders are now armed with frag grenades as standard, so the stealth suits would get no advantage. Their assault would kill 7.83 stealth team, ie: the lot.
Encounter Three: 4 Chaos Terminators [140pts] A real challenge. Relatively cheap and able to field combi-melta's - they represent a real anti-tank threat. 4 Chao's Terminators with combi meltas.
Even with 4 shots, the terminators would only gain a 66% chance of destroying the tank. In return the Roughriders would kill 4.02 terminators, the meltaguns make a huge difference here, improving the killrate from 2.83 up to 4.02.
Encounter Four: 2 Chaos Obliterators [150pts] Oh choices, choices. The obliterators can choose from a multimelta shot, a twin-linked melta shot or a lascannon shot. With the following effects: Lascannon [30%], Multimelta [33%], twin linked meltagun [44%].
In return the roughrider again score 4.04 wounds (0.83 of which are instantkill shots).
Conclusion (or Just let you're hooves go clipity-clop!)
These roughriders are easily capable of taking out twice their points value with the combination of melta payback and lanced charges. Clearly they are a one shot weapon, but the combination of two meltaguns means that you should at least hit the target once - and that goes for fast attack vehicles too.
Rough Riders are a useful deterrent against fast antitank options like Piranha with Fusion blaster, Autarchs on jetbikes or singing spears - the combination of meltagun, frag grenades laspistols and explosive lances will probably do for all these adversaries.
That said, will GW allow a roughrider to juggle so many weapons on the charge ... I doubt it!
So while the new fast attack options look tempting, don't forget your lowly rough rider, he's still got his uses.