To accompany the slow build of my leviathan dreadnought I decided to review its rules and uses in games of 30k specifically but most of these remain strengths or get stronger in games of 40k, so the ideas and concepts are very applicable.
In addition to this review, I plan on reviewing all the units I have specifically bought for my Alpha Legion army from forgeworld. I had quite a sizeable fund of money for holidays with my now ex gf and that may or may not have been nearly depleted in a large spending splurge from FW. Retail therapy!!
I am intending to build and undercoat everything for my Alpha Legion and then unveil it grandly in one fell swoop, so these reviews will let you know what is coming up and then you can eagerly await it :P
Anyway, on to the leviathan!
As is customary for one of the large units that are released out of book sequence the rules for the leviathan are free from FW in a PDF format here. The fact that FW release rules for free like this is one of the biggest attractions to them for me, its just a much more user friendly business practise than the constant guessing game you have with GW. Bizarre they are essentially the same damn company in many ways!
The Leviathan has an impressive 13:13:12 armour and a 4+ invulnerable against both shooting and close combat attacks. I have seen some people argue that for the price you should get AV14 but I think I would rather have the armour as is and have that sweet invulnerable. The point becomes even more moot for me if you take the armoured ceramite upgrade and thus negate the extra dice for melta weapons. Haywire is the bane of this creature though. The leviathan also has 4 HP, as many as a land raider!!
With WS and BS 5 the leviathan is a dab hand in both combat and with ranged attacks, with one ranged attack in particular being brutal which I will come to under the armament section. This means regardless of setting the leviathan up for combat or shooting he will be damn effective.
Strength 8 is not impressive nor disappointing, and is functionally S10 if you have any of the close combat weapons. But even if you go for shooting you can still bust open light to mid tanks fairly well with S8, struggling against anything AV 13 or above.
Finally the Leviathan has a bog standard initiative of 4 and BASE attacks of 2. The profile lists the attacks as 4, but it states that this takes into account it having two close combat arms. Thus should you swap out one for a ranged weapon it will become 3 attacks and if you have 2 ranged weapons it is 2 attacks. So with a close combat variant you will pump out 5 attacks on the charge, but this can be seriously augmented by the weapons you choose.
Overall very solid stats, though nothing to blow you out of the water considering the hefty price tag of 270 points for the stock model. However the options for this beast and their special rules are what really makes the leviathan shine.
Before I go into the details of each piece of equipment the Leviathan has or can upgrade to have I'd just like to say I do not rate an all shooting build at all for this unit. I would ALWAYS keep one of the arms as a melee weapon either as the siege claw or drill. That said I will go over the equipment and justify my opinion afterwards.
Siege Claw - X2 strength, AP2, Wrecker and Severing Cut (built in meltagun)
Wrecker is a rule shared with the siege drill and allows re-rolls to pen buildings/fortifications and adds +1 to the damage chart when rolled in addition to the +1 for AP2.
Severing cut is the bane of any multi-wound model. For each unsaved wound this weapons causes on a 4+ it causes D3 extra wounds at the same profile that must be saved for separately! So 2 unsaved wounds dealt to a wraithknight for example (though I think the leviathan would fare badly against one) could translate into a total of SIX additional wounds to be saved. I love this weapon.
Siege Drill - X2 strength, AP2, Wrecker and armourbane (built in meltagun)
This option is if you want to generally F**k up any vehicle in your immediate vicinity. You could of course take one each of the drill and claw and go crazy!
Grav-Flux Bombard - 18 inch, no strength, AP2, heavy 1, large blast, ignores cover, pinning, graviton collapse, torsion crusher
Graviton collapse means that instead of rolling to wound normally, a model must take a strength test on 2D6 or take a wound. Against vehicles you roll 3D6 to penetrate. The blast marker remains in play for a turn and becomes difficult AND dangerous terrain.
Torsion crusher means that any hull points caused against a vehicle are DOUBLED! However, the lack of a base strength for this weapon means that penetrating hits will be pot luck at best, and I would not like to rely on this weapon for taking out an important armoured target.
Leviathan Storm Cannon - 24 inch, S7, AP3, heavy 6 and sunder.
Does what it says on the tin. An excellent MEQ killer with its AP3 especially on a BS5 chassis. A very good option indeed.
Phosphex Discharger - OH GOODNESS. My favourite ranged weapon. 6-18 inch range, S5, AP2. Heavy 3, one use, barrage, small blast, poisoned (3+), crawling fire, lingering death.
This is one use for a very good reason, repeat firing of this would decimate most everything. Yes its a small blast but that is mitigated by your BS5 which means a maximum scatter of 7 inches.
EXCEPT that Crawling Fire means that after the blast marker has scattered you can move it an additional 2 inches only if it would cover more models than before. Obviously if you've missed entirely than if you are only 2 inches off a model you can move it to cover it! This effectively means that any scatter of 7 inches or under will be a hit on at least one model. Awesome.
Barrage coupled with AP2 is nasty and then you add in poisoned 3+ and my goodness its a dirty dirty weapon indeed.
The lingering death special rule means that the board under each blast marker becomes dangerous terrain for any unit with a toughness value OR open topped vehicles for the rest of the ENTIRE game. Tactical use of this in a bottle neck will severely hamper the mobility of an army.
In addition to these weapons the Leviathan comes as standard with 2 chest mounted flamer weapons that can be swapped for twin linked volkite calivers. If you have the points, I would opt for the volkite calivers personally as the chance to generate extra wounds is superior to the flamers when you also have the phosphex and grav-flux bombard options for removing cover saves.
In addition to the armaments above the Leviathan also has reinforced atomantic shielding which grants it the aforementioned 4+ invulnerable (mmm tasty). However if the leviathan explodes then you had D3 to both the range AND the strength of the blast, so it can do fair damage in its death throes. smoke launcher, frag grenades, searchlight and EXTRA ARMOUR also come as standard, so ignoring all those pesky shaken results!
Now as I said I don't think you should ever run the leviathan as a pure shooting unit. This is not because its shooting armaments are poor, far from it, but due to their short ranged nature. Once you are close enough to the enemy to fully utilise the grav-flux bombard, the phosphex discharger and to an extent the storm cannon, you leave yourself very vulnerable to return fire, AND more importantly being charged.
Without its close combat weapons you will have 2 attacks at strength 8 with this beast, which if your opponent plays correctly and uses something such as Wyches in 40k or just a big tactical blob in 30k then your 300+ point monster will have had a single turn of shooting before being held up. And if that tarpit has haywire you can kiss goodbye to your dreadnought, even with its 4+ invulnerable.
For this reason I would always take at least one siege claw with this beast. Severing cut gives you an excellent chance to take down any multi wound characters lurking in a unit and deal enough damage to hopefully break the enemy and get yourself free.
Apart from that caveat I think any combination of weapons will serve you well if used correctly. The joint most important factor with the Leviathan (along in my opinion with always having one melee weapon) is how you keep it mobile. This beast wants to be up close and personal and there are really only two options for this.
The first is utilising some form of special rule to grant scout, infiltrate or outflank to the dreadnought so that he can move up the field quickly or come on from the side from reserve and wreak havoc in the back lines. There are many many special characters, legion rules, chapter rules that can let this happen, but it does limit your choices if you aren't one of the lucky few who have that available.
For those that don't you can take a dreadnought drop pod. Now this adds 65 points to an already expensive unit, but it is totally worth it. First of all you can remain embarked when you arrive, that gives you 3 ablative hull points of protection. In addition its open topped so you can still fire your ranged weapons on the turn you arrive. With inertial guidance this can get you danger close to your opponents snowflake squad to unleash poisoned phosphex hell on it!! The final boon of this method of transport is it grant shrouded to the pod, anything behind the pod and anything stood on the doors of the pod for a turn after arrival. So those 3 ablative hull points just got more survivable. AND you can charge the next turn after disembarking!!!
My favoured build will be an all in unit. Two siege claws, phosphex discharger and volkite culverins plus armoured ceramite in a dreadnough drop pod. Boom.
The Leviathan is a big points sink, but I think any game where it reaches half its potential will be a game where it earns its crust. It can be kitted out to combat infantry over armour or vice versa. It has an array of filthy weapons that can be absolutely devastating, but they are limited by their range which makes you vulnerable to tar pitting without a decent melee back up. Equally delivery of the Leviathan to the enemy is key and drop pod assault or movement shenanigans are an absolute must.
Apologies for the super wordy post! Well done if you made it :) Let me know what you think of the unit and the article in general, feedback to improve the blog is always welcomed :)