Vulkan as a special character breaks what used to be (as far as I was concerned anyway) one of the fundamental rules of army enhancing special characters, namely that they improve your army in a single way that then by default forces you to design an army in a certain way to compliment that speciality.
Vulkan breaks this truism by improving both your armies anti-tank (re-rolls to hit with Melta weaponry) and anti-infantry (re-rolls to wound with Flamers) as well as being a fairly potent assault unit in his own right. Of course it could be argued that both those types of weaponry are relatively short range which admittedly does force you to design a relatively short range army if you want to get the best of these benefits. In addition the fact that he makes Thunderhammers Master Crafted which makes an already impressive unit (Thunderhammer + Storm Shield Terminators) even further reinforces that 'short-range' theme.
As for Vulkan himself he has an impressive 4x, WS 6, S 6 attacks on the charge at an initiative of 5. Having both a Master Crafted weapon (one re-roll to hit) and Digital Weapons (one re-roll to wound) he's doing a consistent 3 to 4 kills a turn unless he (well you. I suppose) rolls atrociously. He has a 2+ armour save and a 3+ invulnerable save which makes him fairly survivable against most anti-infantry though his lack of 'Eternal Warrior' can be a concern against certain weapons (Power Fists/Klaws being the first thing that leaps to mind). Against anything that doesn't insta-kill him he has the standard 'Captain' compliment of 3 wounds.
Lets turn to Mathshammer briefly to see how much of a difference his 'Chapter tactics' actually make.
Lets start with every Marine players favourite anti-tank weapon, the Meltagun.
|Probably not a Meltagun if I'm being honest...|
A standard Marine (BS 4) has a 67% chance of hitting his target. With 'twin-linking' that becomes 89% which is a significant improvement to hit. Obviously your chance of destroying a vehicle after it's hit stays the same but taking into account all the benefits of the 'Melta' rule, Strength 8 and an AP of 1 that's pretty good odds. Of course, against infantry that changes the odds of a kill against most none MC's from 56% to 74% with the benefit of causing instant death to any character of Toughness 4 or below who's unfortunate enough not to have the 'Eternal Warrior' rule and fails his Invulnerable save.
Flamers are slightly different as they hit automatically we then move onto a higher chance to wound instead.
|...This is definately a Flamer though.|
Master crafted on a Thunderhammer makes our average 2 hits from 3 attacks on the charge into 2.67 which more often than not is going to mean 3 hits each. 15 hits from a unit of 5 Thunderhammer Terminators is going to make a fucking mess of most enemies and even makes hordes think "what the fuck was that", lol.
So he makes the premier Marine anti-tank, anti-infantry and 'Death-Star' units more awesome than they were before. Seems like a no-brainer choice, right?
Well not all the time. The loss of 'Combat Tactics' can be a great blow to many standard 'Best-Of' marine builds and you've also got to find somewhere to put the bugger. In a standard 'Best-Of' Marine list the Rhino's are going to be already full of Tactical Marines and putting 190 points of combat character in with an objective holding unit is a bit of a waste. Putting him in a razorback removes your ability to do what my FLGS has affectionately named 'Drive-By's' where you shoot your Melta's and or Flamers out of the Firing point of the Rhino and also makes your opponents target priority pretty simple. The old stand-by of Character + Terminators + Land Raider is still there as an option but any decent player will have 'suicide' and or 'blocking' units to get in it's way.
So I'm basically saying that he's good but is tricky to reliably fit into a standard list. So is there an answer then?
Well in part 2 we'll look at what unit configurations he compliments best and then see where that leaves us from a list building point of view.
Thoughts and Comments are (as usual) most welcome.