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I'm thinking about fielding 3 drop pods (so that I can drop 2 pods on the first turn) with an eye towards two things:
1) Take out a key unit or two of my opponent's before it can do too much damage to me. Defilers, Leman Russ Battle Tanks, nasty MC/ICs, etc.
2) Distract a respectable portion of my opponent's force for a turn, perhaps two, so that I can move my marines into position without having to face excessive enemy fire.
The rest of my army would be mounted in transports, or be able to move at least 12" (Except possibly for a dev squad, although even that would be packing a Razorback for the extra heavy bolter.)
One of the pods will be packing either some dreadnought variant. Another will almost certainly be loaded with a tactical squad. The third drop pod I would like to pack a hard hitting unit.
I would drop the dreadnought and the hard hitting unit on my first turn. The tactical squad would come in later to reinforce wherever it was needed, or simply land on a objective.
The main purpose of the two first turn pods is to do some harm, distract the opponent for a turn (and hopefully screw with any plans he may have made.) Surviving for a second turn of shooting would be wonderful, but not expected. With this in mind I may only want to drop one or two pods to keep the size of my sacrifice down, as each pod will represent a decent chunk of points.
I'm looking at three possible entries for this drop pod number 3. The first would be a command squad with 3 melta guns, and one flamer (just so it can do something to hordes if I don't have a good melta target.) The second would be a 5 man sternguard, equipped with 3 melta and 2 flamer weapons (I'd obviously need to use some combi-weapons.) The third would be a 10 man sternguard squad, with the same special weapons, possibly with a PW or PF on the sergeant.
Both options 1 and 2 come in at 215 points when put into a drop pod with a deathwind launcher and beacon. Option 3 comes in at 340 points, plus anything I put on the sergeant.
Between options 1 and 2, I can't see any reason to not take the command squad (option 1) other than I lose a flamer. I have considerably more durability with feel no pain, the same firepower against my primary target, at the cost of a bit less firepower against my secondary target. The only downside I see to option 1 is I need to take a captain (which isn't necessarily bad, it just limits my options.)
Where I am uncertain is if option 1 or 3 is better. Unless I am grossly overestimating the value of an apothecary, option 3 comes in at 125 points more and only provides me marginally more surivability as long as I stay away from massed power weapons, AP1/2 gear, and Str8+ weaponry (although if they want to fire anti-tank guns into my command squad, bless 'em.) The only reason I don't just jump on option 1 is it feels wrong, very wrong, to drop a 215 point unit that has 5 models. (Really it's a 155 unit with 5 models, and a 60 point tank with a large blast weapon, which makes it a little less painful to think about.)
I guess I'm trying to find someone who can explain -why- the sternguard would do better than the command squad.
Another option would be to take a second tactical squad and he'shan. A meltagun, plus a combi-melta, with rerolls to hit should be able to do some damage when they come out. Taking a special HQ is even more restrictive though (especially since if I take a captain, I'd like to put it on a bike for biker troops,) and I lose combat tactics.
There is, of course, the option of not using this unit at all. Multi-melta bikes and speeders can do the job as well, although probably not until turn 2 unless I get lucky, for less points. A Land Raider could be purchased for only 30-50 points more (I forget the exact cost,) would have passable anti-tank on it, and would do a good job of getting a squad into position thanks to its high AV. Nailing things on turn 1 may not be -all- that important.
You play your game, I'll play mine.
Deathwind launcher - I assume you are talking about the FW model - you cannot transport any Marines in that Pod. It could be what you are looking for though, and the points are not bad for it either...
I'm just referring to the drop pod upgrade in CM: replace the storm bolter with a deathwind launcher for blah points.
You play your game, I'll play mine.
I actually use a nine-man sternguard pod (plus Pedro), though they are my later drop in unit. It is pretty awesome though, considering you will probably drop within 12" of anything, allowing you to rapid fire with their special ammo. If you want horde annihilation / containment, there are no better units (their two attacks a piece helps too for close range assaults). If you want more anti vehicle, personally I would suggest something other than a Sternguard squad, seeing as they will be preoccupied with big stuff as opposed to the hordes, in which case you'll be wasting their awesome ammo. If you want anti vehicle, the command squad with meltas is probably a better bet.
If you had the points, I'd suggest putting both a ten-man sterny squad in one and a command squad in the other, taking the Tac out the 2nd one, but I doubt that's in that cards. If you did do that, you could tailor the drop strategy to your opponent. Heavy horde player? Drop in the Sterns on Turn 1 and hold the Command until later. Lots o' Vehicles? Drop in the Command squad. Lastly, taking He'stan would be awesome with anything with lots of melta and he can compliment your command squad well with some anti-horde with his heavy flamer.
If you want to take the 10 man Sterns, might I suggest dropping them in later. A 10-man squad can wipe out an entire smaller unit in a single go. That is incredibly useful later on, since they can either a)contest a point near the end or b)get some punks off your own, or if its annihilation they can seriously damage any troops groupings left.
Some fun idea. Since a drop pod is a dedicated transport, you can actually choose to mount in them, or not.
If correct, you could sacrife the DROP POD, instead of it and the cargo. Sure, they will bug the opponent, but the squads will soon be gone ( from isolation of the rest of the army ), which costs you a lot of points.
Buy the three drop pods, upgrade them with that ordnance missile launcher, drop it into your enemy and have fun with it.
Allthough I'm not sure if the dedicated transport rule allows this.