6th edition started, and immediately it was clear that armour had taken a beating with the new rule set. Immediately there were list after list virtually no armour. I was right there with you, and yes, I loudly proclaimed to just about everybody that I ran into that the mech heavy list was DOA.
Literally dozens of games later, no idea how many, I have done a 180 on the mech heavy list, can say with a lot of truth, that my heavy mech lists are wrecking many an opponent, and that I feel the community has missed out on the opportunity that mech in 6th edition provides.
If you did not catch the last post regarding transports and their limitations, here is the link.
When it comes to a mechanized list, I want to at first define what that is. It is not a list with 8-12 vehicles in correlation to the point value of the game. A fully mechanized list is 14-20 vehicles on the board.
The Benefits of a Mech Heavy list (the last 3 of course were the same in 5th)
1. More options for efficient Vehicles
2. Much harder to disable a Vehicle
3. Cover is much easier to get
4. Damage tables
5. Lots of flexible firepower
7. Can easily overwhelm opponents
MSU= Multiple Small Units for those that do not know.
1. In general I tend to play 2000-2500pt games, which immediately opens up 2 focs and double allies with two primary detachments. So with this point level in mind, MSU takes on a whole new meaning. Yes, 12 primary and 4 allied troop choices become available, and with armies like Imperial Guard, Blood Angels, and Grey Knights (even Dark Eldar), new powerful options become available.
Even going below 2000pts, massed mechanized lists are easily available in larger numbers. Ideally with Imperial Guard, just about any army can load up under 2000pts with large numbers of vehicles.
So knowing that these options are available, we can see how easy it is to get choice FOC selections from which we want to get our vehicles. More options, means a better access to efficient armour.
2. Now in 5th edition when you faced a ton of mech across from you, it was a disabling game that you played against them. Meaning it was easy to take a vehicle out of the next round and make it so it was ineffective, and unable to fire or move. With 6th edition, that has changed. Glancing hits no longer slow a vehicle down, and with extra armour on a vehicle, you really can't stop it from firing (albeit snap firing). So vehicles can continue their hail of fire upon the enemy, even while taking damage. This is a huge and critical difference from 5th edition.
3. Now lets add in how easy it is to get cover. Its very easy to get 5+ saves now, and now 1 out of 3 glancing and pens are absorbed.
4. Add in that the damage table is much different now. Without AP2 or AP1 weapons hit, it is more difficult to get a vehicle to explode.
5. The primary strength of MSU, is the number of units, and their flexibility to take on a large number of targets. Shooting efficiency is at its strongest in some of these lists, including the number of heavy weapons that can move and shoot.
6. Very little has the mobility on the board like a vehicle does. Very often in late games, I find my units hoping aboard a transport, to get across to a valuable objective.
7. MSU is really strong in how it can overwhelm opponents. As more and more people move to an infantry based list, large numbers mobile units become something of a challenge.
A lot of people will still consider 3 hull points the final draw that makes vehicles easier to kill, and yes, I do believe armour is easier to kill. I am not refuting these claims. What I am saying though is that while my armour is alive, it is much more effective on the table than it once was. No longer is half my armour not able to fire every round because of heavy weapon suppression (vehicle damage). In 6th my guns are still firing.
I have been fielding 20 vehicles in my lists. I have not lost more than 8 vehicles in a game over the last 7-8 match ups, even against massed heavy support and incredible heavy weapon fire. yes, I know everyone reading this will say, "I can do better than that". Good, I expect it. however, 20 pieces of armour are incredibly hard to take down, even in 6th.
So what if your list takes down 3-4 pieces of armour in a round, even 5. The rest of the army for the most part is shooting at near full effectiveness, and that is the key to 6th edition armour. Don't get upset that you are losing tanks, the ones you got are enough. In a heavy mech list, there is just too much for your opponent to kill.
Now I do think that not every codex is ideal for this. For a razorback spam style list, I truly believe that Blood Angels and Grey Knights do it best. IG obviously do a chimera hull list very well. There are other options as well, like Blood Angels fielding 12 vehicles of AV 13. (6 heavy, 6 elite) + Razors.
My favorite choices for Heavy Mech lists....
1. Grey Knights with Coteaz, lots of Psybacks, lots of dual autocannon dreads and IG allies
2. Blood Angels with Assault Squads without their jump packs for a 35pt reduction on Fast Razorbacks (Las/plas)
3. Imperial Guard. So many different ways to accommodate massed tanks. A great allied force.
4. Dark Eldar. Yes, I said it, Dark Eldar. 18-20 Fast Raiders and Ravagers are amazing on the tabletop.
think Trueborn (3) with 2 splinter Cannons and raider x6, Ravager x6, and lots of raiders with a couple venoms mixed in.
Some of you will get caught up that I am talking about a lot of spam. That is true. However spamming these units is just the starting place for list design. Refinement refinement and even more refinement will move points around, adjust, and swap out. Once you have your base list, then its time for some fine tuning and moving outside the box of straight spam.
I do not like to carry my troops around a lot inside their vehicles. I want them out fighting. So the strengths of MSU still apply. Lots of heavy weapons and mobility across the field. So my Warrior acolyte squad with 3 plasma guns with a psyback are out fighting across the board.
Assault vehicles are often rather expensive, and driving in too close the enemy opens you up to easy melta kills. I prefer shooty armies for my mech heavy list. Infantry Plasma guns work great in this style, simply because of their new range increases on the move, and their AP2.
Conclusion: MSU mechanized lists are good. The key though is more. Keep it simple, and keep them efficient (points wise). MSU can be taken with a much better variety of choices in a single army list through double foc and allied forces than 5th edition could ever dream of. This makes a properly tuned MSU Mechanized list a beast on the tabletop.