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Here's my thought.
Because of 4th ed rules, your small, vulnerable and valuable command squads are a lot less effective at commanding your troops. You either put them behind/amongst your lines and hope that the enemy fails his Ld checks to shoot you (most armies are Ld 9 or 10 nowadays), or hide the squad behind a tank or cover and still confer the Ld bonus to your squads, but lose all the shots of the squad.
I figure putting a 10 point mortar in command squads and hiding the squad can keep the Col/Capt/Lt alive to confer his Ld bonus, while he can still put a shell on an enemy. And while mortars are inaccurate, weak and not a guaranteed kill against most enemies, consider this. The one time that a mortar kills a saucy jumppack CC squad guy and pins the whole squad for a round, that 10 pt mortar just paid for itself thrice over.
I love Mortars. Ive never taken one in a squad, but I often take them as a heavy weapons platoon in my HQ. Not the best weapon ever, but cheap.
Its effectiveness varies wildly, especially against different opponents, not to mention its scattering chances.
I like the risk though, and use them when i play other guard or swarmy type armies where i can target larger groups.
edit: i like the new LOS/Scatter barrage rule in 4th edition
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I'm going to use my command squad. What you said about killing the one guy and pinning the unit is exactly the reason to take it. Let your command squad do something other than committing suicide by staying out in open or deepstriking, chimera, etc.
Yay mortars!(i think they should be AP5.....oh well)
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Theres no arguing that in a command squad it is good to give them a small secondary purpose, for this it is fine.
However this should only really be done if you have 10 points left and can really think of nothing else to do with it.
As a 80 point squad for 3 of them they are atrocious. For 20 extra points you can get one of the arguably best pieces of artillery in the IG armoury. The basilisk.
That coupled with their horrible strength and AP value AND the chance to scatter does not make up their points. However it is admitted that they may have their uses against orks or tyranids. And even with that I would prefer to get a fire support with 3 heavy bolters.
But with the majority of armies being in power armour or similar (necrons) it usefullness is severely cut.
However this is just my opinion, others may have found some good uses for them.
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These are all great responses, but I still stand by my original statement.
If you pin just one unit once in a game, the mortar has paid for itself.
I use three in any 500 pts or greater battle. My favorite thing about them is how the enemy discounts them because there weak. Then at the end of the game it turns out my 80 pts squad killed 6 genestealers and 4 termagaunts. You can never do to good with them so the enemy goes after the bigger stuff but taking out 1-3 guys per turn adds up in the end. Also its great just to have another indirect weapon to fire at anything thats ticking you off like a biovore squad.
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Why do think Mortars suck?
simple, because they *do* suck... at killing enemies with 3+ saves!
i've had HORRIBLE results from using mortars against Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, Sisters, Tau Elites, Necrons, etc etc
simply put, mortars are not designed to kill MEQ. but everyone knows that. it's just a indirect frag missle, you don't fire frag missles at marines, you fire the krak.
however, against Nids, Orks, Kroot, IG, LATD, Tau FW, Eldar, DE, Stormies, etc anything with a 4+ save or worse, i'd say "go for it"
don't put them in your line squads!!!!!!!!!! obviously. thats where you put your money makers, your missle, lascannons, heavy bolters, etc.
however, i'm a big fan of command squads with JO, Mortar, Iron Disp and Close Order Drill. 55 points for a Ld9 radius, that not only can keep your troops in the fight, but will help pin some of the enemy, and perhaps take a decent number of them out.
i'll never forget when a squad of mortars basically took out a large ork mob in one volly!! god it was beautiful.
so, yes, against MEQ, mortars blow. but against anything else, they're useful.
ps. they're also fluffy as hell and fun to use!!