Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Hark the Herald - A 'Stonetooth' Harker Special


It was after I proved myself at the battle of Wykitah Ridge that I got promoted up to the vets. Shortly after that ah met ol' Stonetooth. He was picking new men for his outfit after he'd lost some out there in the Deltaland. Something about fighting a damn dreadnought. I'd heard hard but good things about the man. Most of the non-comms wouldn't talk about him, but the scuttlebutt was all about how Harker was the meanest, the biggest and the nastiest vet in the Catachan Devils ... and in that outfit, that's saying something.

I was lying on my bunk, getting some R&R after the last gig. Unlike the other guys, I'm not too hot on jesting and clawing and all after Ah been out on some serious action. The guys know this and leave me be, after a couple of times they tried to 'spread the love' and I had to set 'em straight.

Anyhow, in comes this huge shadow of a man, easily topping seven feet. I peer up at a mountain and wonder for a moment whether I'm seeing an Astartes ... never having seen Harker before in the flesh. Smoke curls up out of the man's cracked face as he grimaces down at me through the swirling ash.

"Name's Harker. You've heard of me." It was a statement, not a question. I nodded, seemed best to keep my mouth shut. Harker sucked in some more cigar and it glowed beneath his iron grey eyes. "Word is, you're tough, boy. You tough?" I stared up into those cold eyes and thought about all the bravado and shit the other spouted.

"I survive." I said. At that, his cold eyes glinted, and a couple of tight lines twitched about his eyes. Guess that'll do for a smile. The manic grin hadn't moved though, the teeth still chewing at his cigar.

"People are saying you led some men into a nest of slither slathers, and that you were the only one to walk out still kickin'. That Straken hisself was impressed with your nerve." He removed the cigar, spat on to the lino and replaced the smoking husk between his teeth. "Ahm also hearing that Strakens thinking about having you in his command as some sorta bodyguard ... now ain't that an honor?"

I'm sure Harker coulda picked up something from my face if I hadn't tied down my guts real hard at the mention of Strakens name. If Harker was the biggest, Straken was a gilt'd 'throne damned stealer of a man. None crossed him and lived, and he just kept on punching. Getting on Straken's roster was an honour ... but the sort of honour that'd get you killed.

"I heard that too." I muttered.

Harker must have seen something, either way I'll never know, but since that time I seen Harker know stuff, duck stuff and step aside from stuff that no man'd know. See with Harker, the size and the voice and the raw hates what you expect. The thinking just ain't.

Harker reached over and grabbed my carry case with one meat sized paw. Without seeming to notice he lifted the end and dragged the 400 pound bulkhead up to the edge of the bed. He sat down parallel to me. Maybe he was part Astartes after all...

"See, Ahm thinking that maybe you are smart like me, and the Commanders needs are making you a little ... thoughtful." His eyes blazed at the wall opposite my bed, his silouette wreathed in smoke.

"Ahm also thinking that you like it quiet like me and you don't want no fuss, but there's no way no pips or non-comm is gonna step in the way of Strakens chain for a pleb like you." Harker fixed me with a bullet gaze.

"But me, ya see, I got other plans. I reckon Straken owes me one, since my boy Fiddle saved his ass on the peak from that Tyrant." he paused and gave me a knowing look. "Fiddle'd about had enough of my being bossy anyhow and he decided to go out with a bang. That Demolition charge set it up just nice. Shame he couldn't really let go, seeing as how Straken was in the thick of it."

"So Straken owes Fiddle, and since he can't collect he owes me. As you know, Ironhand ain't too interested in rank and shit - so here I am. I got a squad a man down. Waddayasay?"

I said yes.



Harker rocks doesn't he. Relentless, FNP, Stealth, infiltrate and move through cover. Of all the 'upgrade' units he gives the best 'bang for the buck' at a meagre 55pts. Oh and he comes with a relentless heavy bolter - making that a 36" assault weapon. Not bad at all.

Deploying Harker in a catachan (or mobile infantry force) is a little more tricky as his specialisms don't really have cohesion. He has great options, but there's always a risk of Harker's ended up isolated and alone and frankly outnumbered. So apart from being an expensive speedbump, how do we make Harker work?

Infiltration Options

Harker turns his unit into Catachan Devils. This gives the whole unit move through cover, stealth and infiltrate. Therefore Harker can be placed in an 'inconvenient' position for the enemy and offer a signficant harassment.

The obvious special weapon for such a unit is the sniper rifle. However at 14 each (before upgrades or a heavy weapon) we have cheaper snipers ... they're called ratlings! The advantage that Harker brings is signficant more firepower potential than just ratlings. He can also deploy a heavy weapon team alongside his heavy bolter 'payback'.

I think that the Autocannon is the way forward here, offering signficant anti transport and MC options, while keeping the price tight (only 5 points). In an 'inconvenient' sniper position, this will significantly increase their harassment factor. The sniper rifle is a low-par weapon, but gives them the reach to inflict casulaties and pinning shots on the enemy.

The final option is a personal favourite of mine. Upgrading the unit to Demolitions gives you 10 meltabombs - which should keep the tanks at arms reach - and a demolition charge. This simple 30pt additional gives the squad real attitude. The observant opponent will spot the conversion, the unobservant is in for a shock.

Personally I'd accompany Harker's units with 9 ratlings. This gives the ratlings the firepower and punch to not be ignored. At 265pts for 9 ratling and Harkers squad, they can pump out 12 sniper shots, 2 S7 and 3 S5. The addition of shotguns and a demo charge means that these 3+ cover save models are fantastic objective sitters, harassers or a potent distraction.

Flanking Options

Harker can also flank. With this option, you have two choices, take a tank or hoof it.

Remember that as vets they can take a Chug, and the driveby with 3 special weapons, a demolition charge AND a heavy bolter (remember its relentless) would be a sight to see. The maximum impact here is in deploying either melta (or my personal favourite) the grenade launcher. S6 is a nice weapon at 24" and 3GL's greatly complement the medium antitank options. Meltaguns with vets are definitely the 'instantkill' option as well ... but push the potential down while pumping the 'threat factor' way up.

An alternative is to deploy the Chimera as a pillbox alongside Harker... that way you can choose to 'mount up' onto the board for extra durability or a quick 12" and smoke, or you can move on and shoot/assault a target of opportunity - like meltabombing a tank.

My personal favourite for this unit is the grenade launcher as it gives options both ways. A heavy weapon isn't really viable and the unit should max out on shotguns for that move (hit 'em with a bomb), shot, charge the remainder (if any) impact.

Anyone noticing that Harkers flanking should watch out and be guarding their sides, but this is a useful tactics in that it forces your opponent onto the back foot.

Talent Combo's
  • Harker/Marbo le Soldat: Harker and Marbo (all with demo charges and meltabombs) can be a lethal combination. Marbo is also twice as dangerous if he survives his throw away stage - try this as a combo.
  • Harker/Alra'hem: the fluff screeches, but the potential of adding Harkers accuracy to the special and normal troops in Al'rahems flankers have potential. Just be aware that they WILL be ready for you!
  • Harker + Commands: Harker can take orders, which can turn his heavy weapon team/meltaguns/demolition charge into an awesome combo. Although perhaps its better spent on a special weapon team.
  • Harker + Ratlings: as above, a nice combo.
  • Harker + Primaris Psyker: In a Chug with GLs, these boys can pump out 2D6 + 12 S5 and S6 shots from their stationary pillbox. But a bit of a 'hot' target and would need to be deployed 'conventionally'.
So there's a quick piece on your favourite man of insane heavy bolter sneaky goodness ... Gunnery Sergeant 'Stonetooth' Harker. What do you make of the model?