Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Astra Militarum Tactics: Ratlings

On to ratlings.  The next in the elites, these guys changed very little on their own, gaining a new special rule but otherwise staying the same.  The problem these guys have is not really themselves, its the dump 7th decided to take on sniper weapons in general.  They can however be a cheap unit and useful, though are certainly not an auto take in any army. 

The base squad starts at 3 guys, 10 pts each, and you can have up to 10 at 10 ppm.  They are WS2 BS 4, S & T 2, I 4, and Ld 6.  They are good shots, but cannot take hits.  They have flak armor, a pistol, and sniper rifle.  They have infiltrate, stealth, and lastly, shoot and scarper, which allows them to run after making a shooting attack.  Taking the minimum, you have an infiltrating unit with stealth and a few sniper rifles.

The new shoot and run rule is ok, its free as they stayed the same in price, so there's that.  But I have yet to find regular use of this ability.  The problem is that they have heavy weapons and sure they can run after shooting, but what about the next turn.  Very rarely is a run move going to get them out of trouble if they are being pressed.  Getting them out of LoS is great, but then you have just neutralized the unit for your opponent as they are now unable to shoot at anything.  Best use of this rule is to slowly reposition each shooting phase, creeping them up a building or other terrain for better shots, or closer to an objective.

The big problem really is that sniper rifles kind of suck more now.  They lost pinning and rending.  In return they are still AP 2 on a 6 to wound, and count as S4 against vehicles, which is categorically worse than rending.  In large numbers, you can hurt MCs or other high T models.  But even in the best shooting rolls for a full squad, the best you can hope for is 5 wounds, and thats with no misses.  On a wraithknight that really is not a lot of wounds, and even less so on a riptide.  You'll get an AP2 in there, but even then that really is not enough.

However there are uses for them.  I like the small squads, 5 or less, and using them as a scout bubble defense.  Moving them into a position to push back scout moves and hopefully other infiltrators.  At 30-50pts, this is not bad.  Plus they can camp an objective and be annoying.  You can order pinning onto them, but most times other units will make better use.  They have a very low leadership so chances are they will not be passing many orders.  This is another reason to keep them small, you don't really want to be baby sitting them, so keeping them small means that most likely when they are targeted they will simply be wiped. 

You can use leadership boosting units to help them, but really this is not a unit that should or wants to be babysat.  They are cheap and can infiltrate.  The best way is to put them in a good ruin and let them plink away till dead.  They are a small investment for a good distraction and simply for pushing scout moves back.  I would prob never take more than two small squads of them.

There are just a lot a problems with the effectiveness of sniper weapons in 7th edition which hurt ratlings.  Their only boon is being one of the only infiltrators in the codex as well as having stealth.  Its not a lot but when taken as a distraction throwaway unit that might kill a few things, they are not bad.  As an elites choice they are ok and probably not the worst.  But they are one that is going to struggle to excel and do any significant damage.  A large unit could potentially do enough damage over a game, but really their best use before was to pin units in place for your better weapons to finish them, now that really is a near impossibility.



  1. Thanks for sharing this. I have 9 ratling models and I'm not sure of there effectiveness either.

    In a recent game, I hid them in a ruin which had a 4+ cover save. With their Stealth special rule, it was like they were wearing Power Armour the whole game and my enemy had a hard time dislodging them even with heavy weapons.

    I haven't found good use for the "Shoot and Scamper" yet either. I'll try the creeping like you suggested.

  2. I'm still not sure why barrage and sniper lost pinning this edition. It seems to be a pretty fluffy rule considering the weapons, and it's not like it was a problem in 6th.

    Anyways, as you said, they are good at being annoying. I like to take them and hide them in ruins too. Haven't found much use for the new rule since they have to take a turn to set up again after running (although they can snap fire after running correct?). Anyways, I usually just build my army list and use this unit to fill out points.

  3. I managed to kill a swarm lord last week with my 7 sharp eyes space midgets
    Got 4 rends on him and that was it-dead

  4. The slow creep is exactly what I use them for. I Infiltrate them as far back on the board I can and then run them up inch by inch. Usually the enemy forgets all about them until they are sitting on an objective.

  5. Completely new player here although I have been following the blog for quite a while (Thanks, I enjoy flicking onto the site to see more content from you).

    I have used the shoot and scamper in one of the few games I have played so far. In a particularly stupid move but to learn the rules about it they shot at, then moved towards an ork warboss. The other units on board were tied up I think which is why they weren't wiped out and when they made it into combat they inflicted a wound on him (I can't remember how successful the shooting had been for them). I think that although it was a stupid thing to do on the face of it, it kept the orks distracted while I managed to roll for my reserves to finally come on (deep striking scions to the rescue!). It was a fun game but I felt for the poor guy with the warboss but perhaps one of the few times the rule might save a game? his orcs were in about my squishy guard squads and there was a dakka jet somewhere in the mix too.

    Looking forward to trying out some of the things you mention on all of these articles.

    Thanks again!

  6. I think they are much more useful as just an objective grabber in something like maelstrom missions as they can technically be hidden behind any terrain as they are quite small and low in numbers, plus can move, snapshoot and run... I used 1 squad of three just to fill the points and try them out and they secured two objectives that game, pretty decent for 30 man squad. Also they can go to ground in any ruins for a 2+ cover and just annoy opponents...

    1. I've been using mine as an outflank unit and then putting them into cover. It forces my opponent to target them instead of a better unit. If he doesn't I'll receive a victory point for line breaker. Not bad for 30 points. Plus unless they use something with ignores cover they are hard to shift 4+ cover save in ruins +1 for stealth and +1 for going to ground.

  7. Just to point out, I think you all have been handicapping yourselves here. Running in one turn does not count as moving in the next.

    “If a model carrying a Heavy weapon moved in the preceding Movement phase, he can fire it in the Shooting phase but only as Snap Shots. ”

    Excerpt From: Games Workshop. “Warhammer 40,000 (Interactive Edition).” Games Workshop, 2014. iBooks. https://itun.es/us/kNVz0.l

    So, because "Ratlings can make a shooting attack and then Run in the same Shooting phase” that means you 1) remain stationary in the movement phase, 2) shoot your sniper rifles at full BS 4, 3) run, 4) remain stationary in the next movement phase, etc, etc...

    Excerpt From: Games Workshop. “CODEX: ASTRA MILITARUM (Enhanced Edition).” Games Workshop, 2014. iBooks. https://itun.es/us/tOV7Y.l

    Yes, it's very slow (1D6) movement, but it is not affected by difficult terrain, and it allows you to minimize exposure while still keeping up effectiveness.

  8. Just want to point out that they haven't really lost the rending rule. The rending rule has been written into the sniper rule i.e a To Wound Roll 6 is resolved at AP2. Looks like they've lost pinning tho like you say. That's a shame but I still think ratlings are awesome. I like to have three units of 3. You can keep other infiltrators well away.