It's time to revisit that old column, Full Frontal. In these articles, I directly compare the multiple patterns or versions of some wargear and rank them. Today's article happens to be about the vaunted Predator Tank.
As a Blood Angels player, I have access to up to six of these battle tanks, giving me alot of options. Most space marine armies can only have three and then still don't have access to the Baal patterns. For this article, I'm going to assume that I'm playing my Blood Angels, or that ALL space marines have access to all versions (minus the supercharged engines, of course). Let's get started:
Predator Mk 1
This is the oldest version of the Predator. It only came with a turret-mounted autocannon and sponson-mounted lascannons. The Imperial armies used this vehicle as their main battle tank, claiming it was fast and well-armed. Unfortunately, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th editions made this vehicle almost obsolete. Luckily, the new 5th edition has put the tank back on par with the other marks.
In fact, in the modern era of tank combat, this version of the predator is both cheap and effective. The lascannons are obvious tank-busters, but the autocannon does have the stopping power to ruin most transports' days. Add the ballistic skill of the space marine gunners and you have a powerful armored bohemoth.
There was a point I thought this tank was as stupid as it gets, but I've since changed my mind and I rank it pretty good.
This version of the Predator is the cheapest of them all. It is armed with the turret-mounted autocannon and sponson-mounted heavy bolters (although it can be armed like the Mk I). Of all the versions of the tank, this version sees the least use. It's single role as an infantry-support vehicle means that it's rarely needed, as the infantry of the 41st millenium are usually well-supported already. For facing against horde armies, such as Tyranids and Orks, this vehicle always earns its points back. When facing against immobile marines and IG, this tank is little more than a few extra points on the table.
Overall, I rank it as okay.
The Annihilator is the most well-known and feared Predator on the battlefield. Packing a turret-mounted twin lascannon and usually sporting the lascannon sponsons, it strikes fear into any enemy commander foolish enough to bring armor to war. The Annihilator, especially during the 4th edition era, was often armed with sponson-mounted heavy bolters, allowing it to fulfill a tank-hunter and an infantry-support role simultaneously. With the mobility issue brought by 5th edition, the 'all-lascannon' version has taken over again.
I rank the Annihilator as Awesome-sauce. It's almost never not worth it.
This Predator is lucky enough to mount a turret twin-assault cannon, giving it a huge amount of anti-infantry firepower. The sponsons are also typically armed with heavy bolters, but are sometimes given the shorter-ranged heavy flamers for that 'close-in' support. The Blood Angels, using almost exclusively strike tactics, enjoy having a battle tank that shreds infantry and works best at close range. Compared to the Destructor pattern, the Baal is dead even, trading a bit of punch for more firepower.
I rank the Baal Predator as okay, although its place in the BA codex really ups it to awesome-on-a-stick.
Firestorm Baal Predator
This battle tank is just wrong. Having the armor of the Predator, with the flame-heavy weapons loadout, makes this vehicle a truly fearsome opponent for mass horde armies and even Space Marines themselves.
The turret mounts a flamestorm cannon which fires the most powerful flamethrower gout known to mankind. The inferno is so hot the even power armor melts under it. The sponsons are usually armed with heavy bolters like the Baal pattern, but heavy flamers can be taken as well. This much fire is more than a match for the enemy's infantry squads, and the tank is relatively cheap as well.
Overall, I rank this Predator as cool-as-hell. Mostly because it shoots hell onto people, and that's just cool.
To finally summarize
I like the Predator tanks, especially with the wide variety of choices. Although I don't often use them in most of my marine armies, my Blood Angels would be no fun without them. My favorites aren't always the most tactical version, but I'm willing to rank them this way from top to bottom:
1. Predator Annihilator
2. Flamestorm Baal Predator
3. Predator Mk I
4. Baal Predator
5. Predator Destructor
And with that, I'm gonna go build a new tank for one of my armies...