Hey guys. I wanted to talk about something that's been bothering me lately.
Now, I know these guys are awesome. Packing 3 Special Weapons and possibly a Heavy Weapon, hitting on 3+, and with the ability to get a Demo charge, a 4+ armour save, or a 3+ cover save, and counting as a troop choice, it's hard to resist the temptation to pack your army list full of these guys. After all, what's cooler then having an army made up of some of the best, most experienced troopers in the Imperial Guard? Also, since GW has repackaged the Cadian and Catachan troopers so you only get 10, Veterans are a very attractive choice for those starting out, or people who don't want to spend too much.
There is a downside, though. Several, in fact. They are too few and too expensive to make a good core for your army, and other units can do that job for less. For instance, a Veteran Squad with 3 Plasma Guns and Carapace will set you back 145pts. For 120pts, you can get a Platoon HQ with 3 Plasma guns, give the officer a Plasma Pistol, and have a medic backing them up. Yes, they may hit a little less often, but they have a better chance of surviving a plasma overheat (5+ armour AND Feel No Pain, as opposed to just a 4+ armour save), and you save 25pts, which you can use elsewhere.
Another example are "Dakka Vets". These are Vet Squads with 3 Grenade Launchers (or sometimes Sniper Rifles), a Heavy Weapon like an Autocannon, and Camo Cloaks. People will often take tow or three squads of these as a gunline. Well, each of those squads is 125pts, so three of them would cost 375pts. For the same cost, you could get 5 Infantry Squads with Grenade Launchers and Heavy Bolters, and a Platoon HQ with 4 Grenade Launchers. Not only is this another 25 men to absorb hits and put out shots, but you still get the same number of Grenade Launcher shots, 6 more Heavy Bolter shots, and more troop choices to grab objectives. Again, you aren't hitting quite as much, but you have a lot more shots, which makes up for it (and then some). You also have a 4+ cover save instead of a 3+, but, again, it's better to have 55 more men with a slightly worse cover save, then just 30 with a slightly better one.
A good example of this is when I fought Aeon this past weekend. He took 2 Squads of Dakka Vets for a core gunline, I took a full platoon. He had lost almost all of his gunline buy the top of turn 2, and I had yet to take a single casualty.
Here are a few things you SHOULD NOT do with your Veterans
-Use them as a gunline: Infantry platoons are much better at this simply because they're designed for it. They can take up to 5 HW Sections, instead of the single Team that Vets can, they have more bodies to absorb fire, and the Platoon HQ is great for taking Flamers for a counter charge unit, or Plasma to mess up so MEQs
-Do not stack upgrades unless you need to: Try not to take more then one of the three upgrade options unless you need to. Take Carapace if your Vets have Plasma Guns (and they should only if your Platoon HQ is being used for something else), Demolitions if they're going tank hunting or dropping out of Valks, and cam Cloaks if they're grabbing objectives. Try not to mix these roles unless you absolutely have to.
-Have more Vet Squads then Infantry Platoons: There are obviously going to be exceptions to this, but I find a good rule of thumb is to have 1 Vet Squad for every Platoon (even if it's only 25 men).
-Take only Veterans: This builds is related to what I just said about the Platoon/Vet ratio, but it's important enough to repeat. If you only take Veterans, you will have about the same number of men on the table that a Marine player does, and your Vets are nowhere NEAR as good as a Tac squad. They are not Marines, and there is no reason to have them cost as much, ever, because they cannot be as good. Marine Players will have a 3+ armour save and a 4+ cover save (if they're smart) to keep them in action. Your Vets,depending on how you upgrade them, will have a 4+ and 4+, or a 5+ and 3+ (If you've given them a 4+ and 3+, smack yourself with your codex and swap them out for a 25 man Infantry Platoon).
The upshot of all this is that you have less men, like Marines, who aren't that durable, unlike Marines. You'll be shot apart by Gunline Armies, squashed flat by Mech Armies, and ripped to shreds by Horde Armies if their commanders are half decent.
So there you have it. Be careful with how you use Vets, and remember; Cool is not the same as Effective.