|These guys...I love these guys.|
I love my missile launcher Devastators. They are the stand and shoot portion of my army, a task they accomplish with aplomb. The missile launchers are cheap and can take on armor or infantry. Krak missiles will negate power armor and can penetrate armor 13, while frag missiles are useful for clusters of targets. When combat squaded into two units with two missile launchers, they can effectively split their fire. The "filler" marines with bolters act as extra wounds for the missile launchers and can add some mid-range fire when the opportunity arises. The long range on the missiles means they can generally fire on turn 1 and will be able to cover most of the board.
The internets don't like Devastators, at least for vanilla marines. Over-costed is the complaint I see most. The base marines are the same cost as a Tactical squad of equal size, but for vanilla marines the problem lies in the reason Devastators exist: heavy weapons. Weapons start at 10 points a piece and cap at 25 for Blood Angels, while codex chapters pay from 15 to 35 points per weapon. While a relatively minor difference, it does add up. A 10 marine squad with four missile launchers costs 230 points for vanilla marines versus 210 for Blood Angels. The gap increases as you progress to plasma and lascannons: 270 vs. 230 for plasma cannons, 310 vs. 270 for lascannons. If you field two missile launcher squads, like I do, that's a 40 point savings. This is a point I'll return to, but onward for now.
620 points does seem like a lot to address tank busting for vanilla marines, so alternatives figure into any discussion about Devastators. Sternguard is one possibility. They offer more use for the bolter marines, and pack a pair of attacks for melee, but they can only field two heavy weapons. They get these at a big discount though, and points for a 10 man squad for both vanilla and red marines is 260 with missile launchers, 280 for lascannons. While the missile launcher option is more expensive than the Devastators, it's only 30 points for vanilla marines, and those 30 points buy a substantial upgrade while also freeing up heavy support slots. For Blood Angels, the difference for missile launchers is 50 points for half the missiles. Blood Angels also have better options for melee, and for my purposes the squad should never fight in the assault phase.
Looks like this will be a two parter. Next time on Khadoran Machine Never Breaks (but may be a minute late sometimes), alternatives continue with vehicles and walkers. Then I'll address specific strengths of Blood Angels Devastators beyond cost, and then wrap it all up with a bow.