This second tactica will focus on my favorite Leman Russ variant, the Demolisher. This death dealing, smoke belching, earth churning machine has always held an interesting place in the hearts and mind of IG players, and for good reason.
When dealing with the demolisher, it is important to remember much of what you learned about the battle tank. First, you're a heavy vehicle, so you're slow as sin, but you get to fire every weapon you have when you move. That, of course, is almost entirely mitigated by the fact that your main weapon is ordinance, so you're snap firing everything else if you fire that weapon.
|Oddly, one of my favorite 40k pics|
Speaking of that weapon, we're talking about the DEMOLISHER CANNON (trust me, the all caps is appropriate at least once in this article.) This sweet thing is Str 10 AP 2 with a nice large blast. It suffers from a short range of 24" and Space Marine players will recognize it from their vindicator tanks, though IG possesses it on a much more manly hull.
Lets address some strengths and weaknesses.
First, the up side. Strength 10 is a big deal. It means that Thunderwolves and Wraiths are insta-killed and that no vehicle in the game is safe from your wrath (especially with ordinance helping out here.) AP 2 means that armor saves aren't an issue. Any IG player that turned a battle cannon on some marines, only to have an artificer armored character chump block for the squad, knows how big this is. Large blast means that you'll have a fairly easy time tagging vehicles and monstrous creatures, thanks to their large foot prints, and only a large scatter will save infantry units from taking some kind of damage.
Now the down side. 24" is risky. Many of the best anti-tank weapons in the game are short ranged and you'll be getting close enough for them to tag you back. Additionally, remember those wraiths and thunderwolves I talked about? Yeah, if you fail to kill them, they'll charge you and kill you. Good times. Additionally, fast enemies might be able to simply stay away from you (you can only move 6" yourself) and winning on one side of the table means you're probably not going to have time to participate on the other side. Consider deploying them centrally to maximize their footprint in a fight.
Another downside is AP2. "But Helmet," you find yourself saying, "AP2 is good. I get to smash some terminators and (insert regional problem unit here.)" You're right, of course, that is a very nice part of the tank. The problem is that the demolisher suffers when trying to kill vehicles. Baring a '6' on a penetrating hit roll, you're going to be stripping hull points. Difficult to get an enemy that will stand still long enough for the demolisher to kill their Land Raider. Its similar to killing MCs, you're probably doing it the hard way (One hull point/wound at a time.)
One other big change from the battle tank is the demolisher's rear armor, which has been raised to AV11. This may not seem like much but a lot of units have krak grenades nowadays. Also, marines cannot glance you to death in melee with just their fists now. Ditto for bolters up the tail pipe. On a tank that has to move up to be effective, it comes up a lot more often than some people think.
Before we talk about how to play with it, lets talk about upgrades. Like the battle tank, I recommend not taking very many of them, if any. Weapon upgrades will be snap firing any time you use the main weapon, the whole reason for taking this tank over other variants. This severely limits their effectiveness. Some count that with the idea that the demolisher cannon's limited range helps to justify thinks like hull lascannons or sponson heavy bolters, and they're not entirely wrong. Where I disagree though is in the realm of costs. Demolishers are currently the most expensive Russ variant and that means you're already investing a lot of points into something to get a demolisher cannon. Planning on not using that demolisher cannon just seems counter productive and a good indicator that maybe you should just take a different tank all together.
Other upgrades are similarly meh in my book. The Augar Array makes a bit more sense on the demolisher than the battle tank, since you'll be getting closer to the enemy, but its still situationally based on whether you have deep strikers or not (Hi, tempestus players.) Extra Armor might be nice to keep moving but it is a lot of points for a 1/6 penetrating hit result, so pass. The Dozer Blade is the only one that tempts me. With their short range, getting stuck on a rock will bite.
|There are shockingly few decent demolisher pics on the internet|
Now, how to use them. First of all, if you're playing a gun line and don't intend to move at all, leave the demolisher at home. Consider Vanquishers or Executioner for your killing needs. This guy is meant to go and is fairly costly so plan your like accordingly.
Secondly, he cannot do it alone. Between vehicles, MCs, and just plain old missing, one demolisher alone is a dead demolisher. Consider giving him so guardian units, just a chimera mounted squad or two. Hellhound variants perhaps. They can mop up survivors of your shots, kill what you cannot, or at least make an enemy pay for killing your tank.
|If the Death Korps can figure that lesson out, so can you.|
Thirdly, as I stated above, field them centrally. Short range means that you want them to have a number of options on where they should go and what they should do. Isolating them in a corner, baring some kind of cunning plan, is asking them not risk sitting much of the game out.
Finally, consider using them in pairs. While its a significant points cost, demolishers have a way of attracting attention. This advocates for pairs in two ways. If the enemy can successfully kill them then you'll want a backup. Also, if the enemy cannot but will try anyway, they're now wasting shots. Lastly, they can be intimidating, giving you a chance to dictate where your enemy will move by having them move away from your demolishers.
Since I'm talking about the demolisher, its seems appropriate to bring up its little cousin from Forgeworld, the Thunderer.
The thunderer is a tank based on the idea that strapping any gun on a damaged hull is better than having no tank and praise the Omnissiah for that. Armed solely with a hull mounted DEMOLISHER CANNON (ok, I did it again) this tank is a purist. Point and click.
In exchange for losing your turret and the hull heavy bolter, the thunderer kindly gives you a thirty point price savings. Worth it in my opinion. It does afford some considerations. First, a major downside of this tank are Weapon Destroyed results, which will completely disarm you. Next, losing that turret is a bigger deal than you'd think. A demolisher can point itself toward the biggest threat, using its AV14 to remain safe, and having the turret swing at their target. Thunderers don't have that option, meaning the enemy will be more likely to get side armor shots. Lastly, getting immobilized will effectively take you out of the game, as many marine players who've used vindicators can attest. This tank should sincerely consider taking a Dozer Blade for just this reason.
Still, thirty points goes a long way in an IG army...
Before signing off, for those that want to know how much I love this tank. It was my first model when I got into IG. When I left IG (I was a fool) my marine force always had vindicators. Now that I'm back to my first love, I own two demolishers and have kit bashed two thunderers. I sometimes field them with my baneblade so that I have five DEMOLISHER CANNONS (I cannot stop myself) on the table. Its fun as heck.