Deathwing: using Land Raiders effectively
Note: This tactica is now old and needs an update. Many facts will not be correct for current game. However the general gist is pitched right.
Written by: Lion El Jason, Deathwing Commander
First lets look at the tactics that apply to all Land Raiders. To get use out of their huge points cost, you need to make your LRs work as much as possible throughout the game, they have awesome firepower and every missed shot is a waste. They also have just about the best transport capability in 40K (their only competition comes from the Eldar Falcon). The turn a Land Raider uses smoke it is nigh on invulnerable. Finally Land Raiders have AV14. This makes them a fine choice for a fire magnet (when all of your opponents anti-tank are concentrated on a Land Raider it may go down but you'll have no real trouble for the rest of your army that turn!)
A Land Raider can be a fire magnet at the same time as doing either of the other two jobs but using the transport and firepower of any LR (even the crusader) can be tricky. In a Deathwing army this problem is multiplied since a transported squad is also a huge points investment. Since using a Land Raider without a squad (with the possible exception of the Helios) is a bad investment it is necessary to combine transport and firebase. I basically abandon one turn of shooting (not necessarily turn one) in a game to rush forwards and blow smoke. It is rare for a Land Raider to be taken out under smoke so next turn it can disembark its troops and carry on. It may have to miss shooting/have reduced shooting this turn too but that's usually avoidable or you can compensate. However, with the Machine Spirit, and defensive weaponry the LR can often manover more than, say, a Predator or other heavy support unit and thus can make up for these lost turns. In most battles your Heavy Support will miss a couple of turns of shooting (or shoot at an inappropriate target like an Annihilator or at a Marine squad) and since Dreads, Predators etc have lower armour they will get more stunned or shaken results so a LR compares well to them for firepower.
Finally Land Raiders are cover. I can't remember the last time I set up a Dreadnought in a better place than behind a Land Raider!
As far as I'm concerned Land Raiders should come with extra armour. Some say the extra armour is a waste because a Land Raider can move when stunned but being able to turn is worth those extra points!
Other than these a LR needs little else: Hunter Killer missiles aren't much use for any LR since two twin-linked las cannons are better, the Crusader and Prometheus usually engage infantry, and the Helios, well, I suppose you could argue that with the long range weaponry, and it being more likely to stay stationary it could be a good investment but I'd rather have points elsewhere.
The regular Land Raider
Tank?, APC?, Schizophrenic all rounder?
The Regular LR is a wierd vehicle and more than any other is really a relic of older editions. That said it has been pushed to the top of the heap by the genius of AV14 all round (the Land Raider was never particularly known for its thick armour before 3rd ed!). The with this pattern is that you can move 6" and fire one lascannon sponson (and the heavy bolters if you are so inclined) and the other with PoMS, this is good as you can creep along keeping out of AT fire and closing to deploy troops. With AV14 all round its also possible to have the LR in the centre of the table after deploying troops and not have to worry about sides or rear.
More than the others this pattern has a psycological impact. At a tourney once a guy happened to say of an army (Blood Angels) with 3 Land Raiders: "I know in my heart that those points could have been much better spent elsewhere, but I do NOT want to face that army!"
The Land Raider Crusader
The Crusader is the best variant. People have favorites that are others but most agree the Crusader is best. It's (frankly ridiculous) ammount of anti-personel firepower at 12" range is a worthwile investment on its own but when you add an 8-man, assaulting, with frag grenades, Terminator squad you really have a winner. My only issue with it is that if the Multi-Melta was an option rather than compulsory the tank would be great.
The Crusader may as well advance every turn since it fires at full effect at a 6" move and all its weapons are 24" range, again the Crusader benefits from the all round protection since it would be very easy to get behind or at least to the side of it. Smoke is still of use here though and now available for free. This tank took the biggest hit in the new SM codex, it lost the hurricane bolters ability to fire after moving 12", the macine spirit letting the Mult-iMelta fire at a different target (and if it moved over 6") and it went up in cost but it still remains one of the best vehicles in 40K.
The Land Raider Prometheus
I personally really like this tank! Unfortunately there is a serious problem with it in that it that it can only be taken as Command squad transport not as a heavy support option — and Deathwing no longer has a true Command Squad unit option. However for friendly games I can't see this being a problem if you ask your opponent first. Just use it in the Heavy Support slot.
For a shooty-based Deathwing army this is a great addition. This unit can also move 6" and fire at full effect but the Prometheus has 36" range! It can project its huge volume of fire across the table and this can be very scary for any army not based on 3+ saves.
Most importantly though is the Prometheus' improved comms and with an army that can all Deep Strike this is a huge bonus. Remember you can also re-roll a successful reserves roll to try to make them arrive later in the game.
This is not a great deal of use for Deathwing unless you really miss your Whirlwinds. Lack of transport is a pain, the weapons alone cannot justify this tanks points cost. And now that the Machine Spirit must engage the same target as the crew the missile launcher must fire at the same targets as the lascannon and this is rarely a good use of the weapons. I'd rather be wasting heavy bolters than ordnance missiles.
Lion El Jason