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Category: Army Design (page 1 of 2)

Tyranid Primer

The 5th edition Tyranid codex has often been condemned as uncompetitive. As a long-time Nid player, I’d just like to say, yes, yes, it is. But the position is far from hopeless.

The internet is full of codex-wide reviews and plaintive cries of “I want a fluffy assault-focused horde”. I’ll be doing something a little different here. I believe that a tournament-focused Tyranids list is actually rather fluffy. It can rapidly produce a mass of bodies, on par with the Ork horde and its uniformity actually adds to the menace in a way that a fluffier list composed of a hodge-podge of Nid units does not. It’s core tactic is to use the mass of bodies available to gum up the enemy’s lines and hope that something cracks. What could be fluffier?

The Tyranid playstyle is rather different to the standard 40k style. Rather than focusing on assigning firepower to targets, it revolves around attrition, sacrifice and force preservation. The most common decision is not what target to attack but rather what target to block. Individual units are not particularly resilent but the overall force can be.

Army List

There are a limited selection of worthwhile units in the Tyranid codex. Some are first rate units in a third rate codex, others are inherently poor but used out of necessity.

The First Rates
These are the beating heart of a Tyranid force and act as a windvane. Generally, the number of Tervigons left in the field is a strong indicator of the condition of your army. The spawning mechanic and ability to buff gaunt units all make for a potent force multiplier.

Their ability to provide Feel No Pain saves singlehandedly grant the units around them a degree of resilence otherwise lacking.

Hive Guard
Frankly, these would be a solid unit in any codex. High toughness, accurate, a great gun and a good, if situational special rule. The range is a little short, but as the only source of decent anti-mech firepower, these become critical to your success.

This is something of a… lie. They are a first rate unit but only when spawned for free. They provide the bodies to gum up the enemy warmachine.

The Second Rates
Despite their many many failings, amongst them, paper armour and no way of mitigating the effects of cover in assaults; they can, when assisted by Tervigons and moving through cover, advance through fire and really cause difficulties for anyone without major anti-infantry firepower or flamers.

The only decent heavy AT gun you have. It’s accuracy is woeful but it’s happy to duel at range due to the fact that it boasts a 2+ save. As it’s a stand off unit, it can avoid the combat deathstars which chop through your MCs. And as a member of that fraternity, it’ll keep hitting at full power until its very last wound.

The Heartbreakers
The Zoanthropes attracted a great deal of attention in the early days of the codex. They have one of the best anti-tank options in the game. But once brought onto the field, it soon falls apart. It’s range is poor but that is not an insurmountable problem. However, it does require a psychic test to activate and its short range effectively forces it into range of the psychic defences which shut it down.

Very expensive, grants a variety of buffs. Actually quite useful. It directly competes with your Hive Guard though and falls over dead at the first sign of danger. Another false dawn. If it weren’t for the average toughness, this could have had some potential.

This suffers from the bane of almost all the Tyranid monsterous creatures. Toughness 6 and a 3+ save protects you from nothing. There are very few heavy weapons that will not wound you on a 2+ and also punch right through your armour. When your intended role forces you to move into range of such weapons, your life is short and rather pointless.

The Rest
Honestly, I could break them down unit by unit but in every case they fall short. They are either less suited to a role than one of the units above or when used in their intended role prove fatally flawed on the battlefield.

The main issue you face is the abundance of extremely sub-optimal match-ups. There are those that deny it but the codex simply cannot handle certain builds. Most of the newer codexes can, all other things being equal, swat you like the bugs you are. The staple of the Dark Eldar, the Venom skimmer, is your death. Barring ludicrous luck, you simply cannot defeat a force with more than six. They can simply gun down your shooting units and even your best melee units cannot drag them from the skies in any reasonable time. The Space Wolves have the benefits of many missile launchers which can hack away at support and synapse with ease. This is coupled with the psychic power, Jaws of the World Wolf, which really punishes the poor initative of your few decent units. The Grey Knights can also prove very very dangerous. The psychic power, Cleansing Flame, prevents you from using your numbers to win combats. And the army-wide force weapons neutralises your monsterous creatures. Hammerhand and psybolt ammunition works to counter your high toughness also.

In the special cases mentioned above, you play cautiously, preserve as much as possible and hope for runs of terrible luck on the part of the enemy. But outside of those, your chances are good against a wide range of lists. You the tools to go toe to toe with most codexes.

Onto the happy news, your overall strategy is actually quite interesting. In normal match-ups, you simply apply pressure to your opponent and exploit any errors made. The sheer mass of a Tyranid force can be intimidating. The pressure inflicted by your board control makes the opponent react to multiple threats and forces those errors.

The tactic is universally applicable to all armies but the concept of screening is utterly critical to a Tyranid force. This applies both on the squad and army level. Your backfield assets are vulnerable to any decent assault force and must be screened. Your counter-charging units must be screened until they are thrown into the fray. On the wider battlefield, you have the potential to clog large sections of the board. You can also use bait units in a manner few codexes can. When it comes to shaping the battlespace, the Tyranids excel unless they run out of bodies to throw into your path.

The ability to threaten multiple objectives simultaneously is critical as the Tyranids are quite slow. Your axis of attack can be clearly identified as soon as you start plodding in a particular direction. This means that you must commit your forces correctly at deployment, there will be no real chance to recover.

Overall, the codex retains an non-standard playstyle which has its appeal. A well-designed list has a mass to it which can let you bully through smaller forces. The ability to weather two turns of shooting and come out with a larger force is also deeply amusing, when it happens. Throwing unit after unit of termagaunts into Terminator squads and grinding them down through attrition is extremely satisfying. In essence, if you think you’d like being an Imperial Guard Lord Commander, you’d probably enjoy playing Tyranids.

Flames of War for the Cash-Strapped Part II: the Red Army

“The Pope?  How many divisions has he got?” Joseph Stalin

Putting together a Red Army force on a budget is difficult because the lists typically require a high model count.  However, the task has become less expensive since Gamers World began stocking both Plastic Soldier Company and Zvevda models in addition to the high quality, but pricier, Battlefront models.  The lists below use a combination of these.  As before, certain caveats apply:

1.  Our concerns in constructing the lists were pecuniary not competitive.  Some of the lists below can be easily countered but can also make an opponent cry depending on the match up.
2.  From a modeling perspective our concern was WYSIWYG rather than verisimilitude.  However, when using PSC infantry even this can be tricky.  The basing of infantry teams (either SMG, Rifle/MG, or Rifle) requires 4 to 5 models per base.  The PSC box comes with a mix of SMG and Rifle models with additional MG guys.  Try to follow the individual army list as best as you can.
3.  All of the lists below were created using the recently released book Red Bear: Allied Forces on the Eastern Front, January 1944-February 1945.  The lists are not exhaustive,  nor do we claim that they are even the best value for money that may be possible.  Nevertheless, we are impressed with the lists we were able to generate drinking Guinness in T.P. Smiths using the back of an envelope and a stubby pencil.
4.  All of the lists are in the 1500 point range.
5.  People familiar with 40k will understand the list structure.  Lists include a mandatory HQ and two combat platoons.  These are supplemented by a multitude of support platoons.

6.  Prices below are gleaned from the internet.
7.  The rules for rockets (Katyushas in this case) are interesting.  Most artillery suffers a minus to-hit if it does not “range-in” on the first try.  Rockets get three attempts to “range-in” and suffer no penalty to hit.  The downside is they leave a smoke trail which makes counter-battery fire easier. 

Here are the six lists:

Tankovy Batalon (p.20 Red Bear)

The T-34 is iconic.  In my opinion it was the best all around tank of the war, and I have more degrees than a thermometer.  The production figures alone are staggering.  Over 34,000 T-34/76s and 22,000 T-34/85s make the T-34 the most numerous medium tank of the war.

This list is the classic T-34/76 horde.  Make no mistake, this is potentially a horrific list to face.  Twenty one T-34s with tank riders are knife fighters.  Add the threat of Il-2 sturmoviks and Panthers and Tigers are reduced to shy kittens that stick close to forests and buildings.  Finally, you’ve got a mortar platoon to harass enemy guns and infantry.  If you want 4 platoons on the table swap out the air support for 3 SU-85s for an equal point cost.

T-34 obr 1942 with cupola and tank riders 70

Combat Companies
1  Tankkovy Company: 10 T-34 obr 1942 with tank riders and cupolas  560
1  Tankkovy Company:  10 T-34 obr 1942 with tank riders and cupolas  560

Weapons companies
Motorised Mortar Company with observer rifle team   110

Corps supports
Il-2 limited air support  200

Total points: 1500

What you buy:
1 PSC T-34 reinforcement sprue: €5
4 PSC T-34 boxes:  €80
1 Zvezda Il-2: €3.25 (or 3 Battlfront blisters [SU102] SU-85s for €27)
1 Battle Front blister [SU735] Mortar Company: €14

Total cost:  €102.25

Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy Polk (Guards Heavy Tank Regiments, p. 44 Red Bear)

If a tank swarm is not your brand of coffee then try the mighty IS-2.  The Soviets designed this tank as a counter to the Tiger and it certainly fulfills that role.  This is an elite army, to be sure, and it will not be forgiving of tactical errors.

IS-2 obr 1943, AA MG,  140

Combat companies
Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy company: 4 IS-2, tank riders,580
Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy company: 4 IS-2, tank riders, 580

Corps support
Il-2 limited air support 200

Total points: 1500

What you buy:
2 Battlefront boxes [SBX08] Guards Heavy Tank Company:  €108
1 Zvezda Il-2 €3.25

Total cost: €111.25

Peredovoye Otryad (Forward Detachment Tank Company, p. 76 Red Bear)

During the final year of the war the Soviets formed Forward Detachments to seek out and exploit gaps or weaknesses in Axis lines.  This is one of a few lists in Red Bear that combine heavy and medium armor.

T-34/85 with cupola,  110

Combat companies
Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy company: 10 T-34/85,  715
Tank rider company: 1 platoon,   135

Corps support
Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy company: 4 IS-2 , 540

Total points:  1500

What you buy:
2 PSC T-34 boxes, €40
1 Battlefront box [SBX08] Guards Heavy Tank Company:  €54
1 PSC T-34 reinforcement sprue: €5
1 Battlefront blister [SU703] Submachine-gun platoon €17

Total cost: €116

Strelkovy Batalon (Rifle battalion, p. 24 Red Bear)

We have already considered massed T-34s, but no catalogue of Soviet lists would be complete without the massed infantry of the Red Army.  This list can be either Red Army or Guards.  The one posted here is Red Army.

Battalion HQ with Sapper Platoon, 115

Combat companies
Strelkovy company with Komissar, two rifle/MG platoons, one SMG platoon,  365
Strelkovy company with Komissar, two rifle/MG platoons, one SMG platoon,  365

Weapons companies
Strelkovy scout platoon, 1 scout squad, 100

Corps support
Il-2 priority air support, 270
8 BM-13-16 Katyusha, 2 with extra crew, AA platoon, 285

Total points: 1500

What you buy:
3 boxes of PSC late war Russian infantry in summer uniform: €60
1 Zvezda Il-2 €3.25
2 Zvezda Katyusha platoon boxes: €30
2 Battlefront blisters [SU162] DShK AA truck: €18
2 Battlefront blister [XX103] medium bases: €18
1 Battlefront blister [XX104] small bases: €9
You’ll also need to purchase or make a 12″ square template for the Katyushas’ devastating bombardments.

Total cost: €138.25 
(Sadly, this list is well outside of our targeted budget.  However, if you use the Katyushas as the BM-31-12 model with extra crew you have a 720 point unit.  If you run the list as a Guards army rather than regular Red Army you will also dramatically increase the point cost.  Three PSC infantry boxes also gives you almost 400 infantry figures!)

Inomarochnikiy Tankovy Batalon (Lend-lease tank battalion, p. 124 Red Bear).

The United States sent over 4,000 Sherman tanks to the Soviets as part of the Lend-Lease program.  They were quite popular among Soviet tankers.  We like them too.

M4 (76mm M4A2), 95

Combat companies
6 M4 (76mm M4A2), 480
6 M4 (76mm M4A2), 480

Weapons companies
Tank-rider company, 2 platoons, komissar, 265

Corps support
Decoy tank company, 3 StuG G, 165

Total points: 1485

What you buy:
3 boxes PSC Shermans, €60
1 box of PSC StuGs, €20
1 box of PSC late war Russian infantry in summer uniform, €20
1 Battlefront blister [XX103] medium bases: €9 (hack down two bases to the small size to use for the command and komissar tank-rider teams).

Total cost: €109

Rota Razvedi (Reconaissance company, p. 78 Red Bear)

In the last two years of the war the Soviet high command, Stavka, pushed for the establishment of light, mobile exploitation forces.  These reconassaince forces were fast and deadly.  They identified then flanked enemy forces while the heavy support could move in for the kill.  The list allows for the use of captured Sd Kfz 251 half-tracks which makes running such a heavily mechanized list relatively affordable.

Rota Razvedki HQ in Sd Kfz 251s, 35

Combat platoon
Razvedki platoon in Sd Kfz 251s, 2 rifle squads, 115
Razvedki platoon in Sd Kfz 251s, 2 rifle squads, 115

Weapons companies
Motostrelkovy company, 1 motor rifle platoon, komissar, 170
Gvardeyskiy tankovy company, 5 T-34/85 with SMG tank escorts, cupolas, 500

Corps support
Spetsnaz platoon, 1 squad, 100
Guards rocket mortar battalion, 4 BM-13-16 katyusha with extra crew, 160
Il-2 priority air support, 270

Total points: 1465

What you buy:
2 PSC half-tracks: €40
1 box PSC T-34s: €20
1 Zvezda katyusha box: €15
1 Zvezda Il-2: €3.25
1 box PSC infantry: €20
1 Battlefront blister [XX103] medium bases: €9 (hack down two bases to the small size to use for the command and 2iC teams).

Total cost:  €107.25

 In conclusion, PSC has announced that it will soon be offering German and Soviet heavy weapons.  These will present some inexpensive opportunities to construct massive artillery lists.  When available, artillery could be added to any of the above lists to hit the 1750 mark.

Flames of War for the Cash Strapped. Part I: Germans

This spring the Warheads and Gamer’s World will be starting a Flames of War escalation league.  This is an outstanding World War Two game in 15mm scale.  The timing of the league coincides with the release of the third edition rules for Flames of War.  We have always found Flames of War to be an excellent game; however, the miniatures made by Battle Front are rather expensive.  Recently, U.K.-based Plastic Soldier Company has produced several late-war 15mm kits that are ideally suited for Flames of War.  These kits, when supplemented with a few Battle Front blisters, allow for the creation of a substantial force for around 100 euro or less.

The purpose of this article is to present several lists using PSC kits and blisters purchased from Gamer’s World.    A few caveats:
1.  Our concern in constructing the lists were pecuniary not competitive.  Some of the lists below can be easily countered but can also make an opponent cry depending on the match up.
2.  From a modeling perspective our concern was WYSIWYG rather than verisimilitude.  Purists may be offended by the use of generic infantry to represent SS, Fallschirmjäger, etc.  
3.  All of the lists below were created using the recently released book Grey Wolf: Axis Forces on the Eastern Front, January 1944-February 1945.  The lists are not exhaustive,  nor do we claim that they are even the best value for money that may be possible.  Nevertheless, we are impressed with the lists we were able to generate drinking Guinness in T.P. Smiths using the back of an envelope and a stubby pencil.
4.  All of the lists are in the 1500 point range.  Specific point cost have not been included.
5.  People familiar with 40k will understand the list structure.  Lists include a mandatory HQ and two combat platoons.  These are supplemented by a multitude of support platoons.
6.  The Plastic Soldier Company late war German Infantry box comes with 90 grenadiers, 10 officers, and 15 MG42s.  The latter are crucial.
7.  Prices below are gleaned from the internet.  PSC has said the release of its Tiger kit is imminent.  We use the price of the Panther box for the lists below that use Tigers .
Without further ado, let’s consider the lists.

List 1  Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie (p. 76 Grey Wolf)
We are starting with this list because we feel it is the best “take all comers” list.  It also uses multiple units that would make for dynamic tactics and game play.  This is the most expensive list presented.
HQ: Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie HQ and 2ic in Sd Kfxz 251/1 half-tracks
Combat platoon 1: Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie consisting of three squads and a HQ section.  Each squad has two MG teams and a half-track.  The command squad is a MG team and a half-track.
Combat platoon 2: Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie consisting of three squads and a HQ section.  Each squad has two MG teams and a half-track.  The command squad is a MG team and a half-track
Combat platoon 3: Heavy Infantry Gun platoon, 2 15cm sIG33
Divisional support 1: Panther A platoon, 4 Panther As
Divisional support 2: 2 armoured Sd Kfz 7/1 (Quad 2cm)
What you need to buy:
Two boxes of Plastic Soldier Company half-tracks: 40 euro
One box of Plastic Soldier Company Panthers: 22 euro
One box of Plastic Soldier Company late-war German Infantry: 22 euro
Battle Front blister [GE566] 15cm sIG33 : 16 euro
Two Battle Front blisters [GE168] SdKfz 7/1 (Quad 2cm): 18 euro
Battle Front bases blister [XX101]: 9 euro
Total cost:  127 euro.  Point cost: 1500
List 2  Kampfgruppe Bäke (p. 22 Grey Wolf)

HQ:  Panther A
Combat platoon 1: 4 Panther A
Combat platoon 2: 3 Panther A
What you need to buy:
Two boxes of Plastic Soldier Company Panthers: 44 euro.
Total cost: 44 euro.  Total point cost: 1500.
Notes:  It may be advisable to drop combat platoon 1 to three panthers and use the extra points to get some anti-aircraft support!
List 3 Stug Batterie (p. 58 Grey Wolf)

HQ: StuG G with assault rifle tank escortson
Combat Platoon 1: 3 StuG G with assault rifle tank escorten
Combat Platoon 2: 3 StuG G with assault rifle tank escorten
Combat Platoon 3: 3 StuG G with assault rifle tank escorten
Divisional support: Schwere Panzer Platoon, 2 Tiger I E
What you need to buy:
Two boxes of PSC StuGs: 40 euro
One box of PSC Tigers when available: 22 euro (probably)
Total cost: 62 euro.  Total point cost: 1530
Note: You might consider dropping tank riders from two platoons and adding an anti-aircraft blister of 2cm FlaK38s [GE544], 17 euro.

List 4 Grenadierkompanie (p. 26 Grey Wolf)
HQ: Grenadierkompanie HQ
Combat platoon 1: Grenadier platoon with 3 squads
Combat platoon 2: Grenadier platoon with 3 squads
Combat platoon 3: Grenadier platoon with 3 squads
Weapons platoon 1: Grenadier machine-gun platoon with 2 MG sections
Weapons platoon 2: Grenadier mortar platoon with three sections
Divisional support 1: Panzer platoon with 3 Pz IVH
Divisional support 2: StuG platoon with 3 StuG G
Divisional support 3: Anti-aircraft gun platoon, 3 SdKfz 7/1 (quad 2cm)
What you need to buy
One box PSC late war German Infantry: 22 euro
One box PSC PZ IVH: 20 euro
One box PSC StuGs:  20 euro
Battle Front blister [GE735] mortar platoon with 3 sections: 14 euro
Three Battle Front blisters [GE166] SdKfz 7/1 (Quad 2cm): 27 euro
Battle Front bases blister [XX101]: 9 euro
Total cost: 112 euro.  Total point cost: 1500
List 5 Panzerkompanie (p. 72 Grey Wolf).  
HQ: 2 Panzer IV H
Combat platoon 1: 5 Panzer IVH
Combat platoon 2: 4 Panther A
Divisional support: 3 Sd Kfz 7/1 (Quad 2cm)
What you need to buy:
Two boxes PSC Panzer IVs: 40 euro
One box PSC Panthers: 22 euro
Three Battle Front blisters [GE166] SdKfz 7/1 (Quad 2cm): 27 euro
Total cost: 89 euro.  Total point cost: 1500
List 6 Schwere Panzerkompanie (p. 70 Grey Wolf)

In anticipation of PSC’s Tiger kit…

HQ: 2 Tiger I E
Combat Platoon 1: 3 Tiger I E
Combat Platoon 2: 2 Tiger I E
What you need to buy
Two boxes PSC Tigers (when available): 44 euro (or so)
Total cost: 44 euro.  Total point cost: 1505
Notes:  You will probably want to drop 1 Tiger from either the command section or Platoon 1 so you can fit in some support choices.
Concluding thoughts
Other lists that seem quite feasible using PSC products, a few BF blisters, and Grey Wolf list are:
Sturmkompanie, Fallschirmjäger, SS Panzerkampgruppe, and SS Panzergrenadierkampfgruppe.  Many of you will note that artillery is a key omission from the above lists.  This is because most BF artillery boxes cost between 35 and 55 euro.  Mortars are an excellent option if available in a list.
Next week, we will present some Soviet lists.

The Highlander Format

The Highlander format, being used at Moocon, is familiar to Warmahordes players but new to 40k players. Players outside Cork are operating under a double disadvantage, being equally unfamiliar with the format but also with the points level. 1000 points is something of a strange beast. The points level appears quite popular with Cork-based gamers but is relatively uncommon elsewhere. But 40k is 40k and the previous tournament results show that better players still finish above the herd regardless.

There are positives and negatives to the format. It allows no duplication of units, even if they are differently equipped. The main positive would be that this reduces the possibility of losing by match-up. You won’t be caught off-guard by an all-Land Raider list and crushed under their treads. All lists involved will have a certain organic balance. The main negative would be that it increases the influence of luck on any particular game. With less redundancy, the possibility for a single miss to have a fatal impact increases.
The last Moocon’s results don’t tell us much now that the format has changed. The usual suspects win out in Dark Eldar and Space Wolves but there is an oddity in the performance of the Chaos Marine codex. It seems to have performed well above expectations and I suspect it could do so again. With a limited number of codexes on hand, I’ve thrown together some sample lists to try and get a feel for the system.

The Chaos Codex seems to have a certain edge in its troops section but FOC limitations make it difficult to fully utilise, without sacrificing your best units. The Fast Attack section, in particular is simply an annoyance. But I believe the Lash Daemon Prince becomes a real terror at this points level, this will be enhanced by the lack of vehicles.

HQ: Daemon Prince (Mark of Slaanesh, Lash of Submission)
Elite: 3 Terminators (3 Combi-meltas w/Land Raider)
Troops: 5 Khorne Beserkers (Skull Champion, Powerfist)
Troops: 5 Plague Marines w/Rhino
Heavy Support: 3 Obliterators

Black Templars
I know, I know. Footsloggers are goosed. But you’re a BT player, all you have is hope and an abundance of storm shields. Why not play to those strengths? Play it fluff style.

HQ: Emperor’s Champion (Accept any challenge)
HQ: Marshall (Powerfist, Storm Shield, teleport homer)
Elites: 10 Assault Terminators
Troops: 10 Initiates (Meltagun)
Troops: 10 Initiates (Multimelta)
Here’s a strange one, using a quirk from the heavy support section. With smaller boards, the enemy has nowhere to run. One well placed Jaws will still ruin your day.

HQ: Tyranid Prime (Pair of Boneswords)
Elites: 2 Venomthropes
Troops: 12 Termagaunts
Troops: Tervigon (Catalyst, Toxin Sacs)
Heavy Support: 3 Carnifexes (Heavy Venom Cannon)

Space Wolves
And a staple of the tournament scene. The Highlander version is merely a mini-ETC list with the usual focus on shooting, a lot.

HQ: Rune Priest (Chooser, Hurricane, Lightning)
Elite: Dread (TL Autocannon x2)
Elite: Ven Dread (TL Autocannon x2)
Troops: 10 Grey Hunters (Melta x 2, Power Fist, Standard, Rhino)
Troops: 5 Blood Claws (TL Lasback)
Fast Attack: Land Speeder (Multi-melta, Heavy Flamer)
Heavy Support: 6 Long Fangs (4 Missiles, 1 Heavy Bolter)

Imperial Guard

This one is mostly stolen but awesome. Multiple vehicle types, spread over multiple FOC slots. The Guard are going to lay down some hurt.
HQ: Company Command Squad (3 Meltaguns)
Elites: Psyker Battle Squad (Chimera, 1 Extra Psyker)
Troops: Veteran Squad (3 Plasmaguns, Lascannon)
Troops: Penal Legion Squad
Fast Attack: Vendetta (Heavy Bolters)
Fast Attack: Banewolf
Heavy Support: 2 Hydras
Heavy Support: Manticore

Sisters of Battle Army List – 1750

Evening all, for those of you not following Nova tonight the live feed can be found here.
Codex Sisters of Battle part 2 came out this week in next month’s White Dwarf available in most retailers now for your viewing pleasure. I wrote up a quick 1750 list to see what melta spam MSU might look like with the Codex.
I’ve included Uriah Jacobus as my mandatory HQ, at nine times the cost of a meltagun (or 18 times the cost of a Grey Hunters meltagun!) he’s a steal since he allows me to reroll the Faith Point Dice, that and the fact that him and his girls have Feel No Pain USR and reroll to hit on the charge!
Uriah Jacobus
Battle Conclave
5 Death Cult Assassins
Dedicated Transport:
Battle Sister Squad
2 x Meltaguns
Dedicated Transport:
Dozer Blade
Battle Sister Squad
2 x Meltaguns
Dedicated Transport:
Dozer Blade
Battle Sister Squad
2 x Meltaguns
Dedicated Transport:
Dozer Blade
Battle Sister Squad
2 x Meltaguns
Dedicated Transport:
Dozer Blade
Dominion Squad
2 Meltaguns
Dedicated Transport:
Dozer Blade
Dominion Squad
2 Meltaguns
Dedicated Transport:
Dozer Blade
Dominion Squad
2 Meltaguns
Dedicated Transport:
Dozer Blade
Dozer Blade
Dozer Blade
Dozer Blade
Uriah and his close combat girls form the only counter attacking force although their pretty fragile (even with a 5+ invulnerable save each and Feel No Pain) although they should be able to kill at least eight generic space marines on the charge. They’re more there to make the enemy think rather than form an attacking force all on their lonesome.
Forty sisters form my scoring units, loaded to the gills with Meltaguns and all mounted in Rhinos. The Battle Sisters are seriously reliable with their own little act of faith making them regroup automatically (if used in the Movement Phase) or rerolling To Hit rolls of 1 (if used in the assault or shooting phase).
Coupled with the epic (potentially twin linked with the acts of faith) melta from the Dominions (who can Outflank if I so choose) and triple Exorcist action tanks shouldn’t be a problem for this list. It melts Kill Points but then what list doesn’t these days.
Another unit worth examining is the Sororitas Command Squad, 3 Relentless Multi Meltas in one squad? Awesome.
Honourable mention goes to Retributors, the Heavy Support Sisters who clock in at only 85 points with maximum Heavy Bolter stock. “But Joe, Heavy Bolters are lame in 5th Ed. LOLOLOLOL.” Well said FarseerDave but not so easy to dismiss when they’re Rending….
So there you have it folks, my first go at a 1750 Points List for Sisters of Battle.
Let me know what you think!

Second Rank, Fire! First Rank, Die!

Flattening the Curve: Basic Wave Theory
Warmahordes enthusiasts have always mantained that their game has a relatively simple ruleset, on par with 40k and in this, they are correct. However, a beginner may still take time to grasp the important of a tuned force.

My own learning curve was a steep one. The tendency to drive forward in a shallow and wide battleline failed me time and again. The tipping point was the realisation that Warmahordes required greater depth in formation and the use of layering. Once I’d identified the basic idea laid out below, I found my lists and game performance improving enormously.

The main difficulty is that while many sites detail the most competitive caster and strongest units, these can only do so much, the key to success for a beginner is in understanding your force must have two (occasionally) three core elements to be successful. Once these have been identified, then you can design your force with some expectation of success. The compulsary elements are the First Wave and the Second Wave. Flankers are the optional element.

The First WaveAllowing your opponent to operate without restrictions is the path to defeat. Always assume that he, undoubtedly, has the perfect plan. Your first action should be to lodge a rusty spanner deep in the workings of his well-oiled machine. Your tool of choice is the First Wave.

The First Wave should be considered a sacrifical force. They are not expected to survive the game intact but shape the battlefield to benefit those units following behind.

The stereotypical First Wave unit is the humble “tarpit” unit. Whether through high armour, high defence, special rules or sheer numbers, these are intended to move forward and lock enemy assets in place. They are not expected to inflict losses, merely to tie down more than their value. A fully upgraded unit of the Protectorate’s Holy Zealots are an obvious choice with their ability to gain one turn of near-total immunity to enemy attacks.

A rarer First Wave archetype is the “Board Control” unit. Similar to the “Tarpit”, the goal is to advance and shape the enemy’s movement to better suit your army. The Circle’s Druids can lay down clouds which restrict shooting and charging. This may seem like a passive response but it has the same effect as the above.

The distinction is somewhat arbitary and there are many many options. But you should begin to grasp the idea. First Wave units which limit the enemy’s ability to move as he wishes, costing him irreplacable time and space. If you don’t have this element, then your opponent has the ability to ensure optimal positioning for his force while his First Wave denies you the freedom to react.

Your first strike units seem to be an obvious choice for this category. As very fast models, they can attack from great distances and remove key enemy pieces. In theory. In actuality, they are often better reserved as a second wave unit. Any good opponent will not expose his key units to your first strike and flinging them into the opposing First Wave plays into his hands.

So, look to your faction books and identify those relatively cheap and/or survivable units which can used as your First Wave. Anything which can truly delay an enemy advance should catch your attention. The game is fast-paced, any delays you inflict can prove fatal. This is especially true in tournament play.

The Second Wave
This is the heart of your force. The most effective assets and support elements. This vary from the actual second line units standing behind your frontline to the support units cowering in the rear of your force. Most importantly, it includes your caster. So, basically, everything else. But calling it that would ruin my lovely First/Second Wave dicotomy.

The First Wave is sacrificed to allow this wave to be used to full effect. Everything the First Wave does must be viewed through the lense of benefiting the Second Wave. Victory or defeat will be decided by whomever makes best use of this element.

The composition of your Second Wave varies wildly, depending on your faction choice. Bear in mind the relative value of your assets. The Second Wave should have all of your strongest pieces. Your best non-ranged jack, your best ranged unit, your strongest support. Critically, you wish to protect whichever units are needed to make your evil masterplan work.

The Flankers
Not all forces use flankers and some like the Legion of Everblight tend to rely heavily on their use. Hence, their use is optional but strongly recommended.

Their intentions are clear. They wish to move to a threatening position alongside or behind the opposing force. They hope to draw enemy assets away from the frontline to face them or simply bypass the frontline to strike at the enemy’s Second Wave.

The main requirement of a flanking unit is speed. Tournament games rarely go beyond the fourth turn and can often end in an assassination on the second turn. Flankers must be able to reach their angle of attack by the second turn.

The second requirement is that they must pose a credible threat. A flanking unit which is unthreatening will not provoke the desired response. You want to draw a disproportionate slice of the enemy force towards the flanker or failing that, choose a flanking unit that will be able to inflict enough damage to justify the unit’s cost.

The use of the terms First Wave and Second Wave may give the impression that Warmahordes tactics boil down to a staggered charge at the enemy but the same could be said of chess. The comparison is a fair one as Warmahordes has a strong sacrifical element. You commit assets to eliminate enemy assets in the hopes of attriting the enemy to death or establishing the conditions for a decapitating strike against the enemy caster.

The most important thing for the new player to grasp is that the notion of layered attack and defence is key to success. Although, the new player will soon outgrow the approach, the basic division of First/Second Wave should provide a good starting point to effective play.

Thunderwolf Lords at the ETC

So behind closed doors coming up to the submission of lists tonight for the European Team Championships Team Republic of Ireland and Team Northern Ireland have been contemplating a certain Codex Space Wolves list centred on multi Thunderwolf Lords running at the enemy then splitting off and going their seperate ways.

Coupled with the traditional Space Wolf Scout squad, solid mounted scoring options and ranged firepower in the form of Long Fangs it seemed a promising candidate for the ETC where matchups can be tailored somewhat.

Venerable master John Stowe (of the Dublin Games Guild/Northern Wasters/Vice Captain Team Northern Ireland 2011) brought the list to last week’s QCon in Belfast, probably in an attempt to persuade his Team Northern Ireland Captain Jonny Fisher to consider it viable for ETC selection. Well Mr. Stowe achieved 7th place with the following list:

and I’ll guess we’ll find out soon enough if he managed to persuade Jonny to take it along or not.
I personally don’t think the list holds much water on the Irish scene, particularly the Lords are subject to some things which, although rarely faced now, would ruin your day. Lash, psyker battle squads are a couple that spring to mind although 5+ saves against psychic powers and psychic hoods can help with this, on top of which John took a Wolf Priest with Jump Pack and meltabombs to avoid the ‘blob’ getting escorted off the table.
The list is solid for the ETC though and while I wouldn’t take that exact list I would want a slightly modified one to sit on that eight-man ETC squad. While bidding it can be an excellent list to gut certain other ones, apparently it does quite a number on Vendetta Guard but should be kept away from Stealer Shock and Dark Eldar (in fact a venom spam Dark Eldar list 19-1’ed John at QCon in the first round (commanded by none other than Alec ‘The Master’ Cornelius of the Warheads). It also does well against most medium mech armies but also heavy mech (Land Raider spam isn’t uncommon at the ETC).
Possibly more important is the fact that apart from Dark Eldar and Genestealers this list has very few straight up counterlists, something which weighs heavy on a bidding captain’s mind. This could also skew the opposing team’s bid strategy. While I’m certainly not the expert on this list I trust the views of those who back its taking on to a team, guys like John Stowe who are so convinced by it they’ll spend their precious few tournaments trying it out in public just to convince fellow team mates.

John Stowe also proposed (and then ran with the help of the War Altar’s R0ot) the inaugural Irish Masters Tournament this year.
Good luck Team Northern Ireland this year at the ETC!

Tactically Speaking.

The Imperium’s elite, superhuman defenders. Eight foot tall, acid spitting, mini-rocket-launcher-machine gun wielding Zealots encased in ceramite plates. Awesome! Well the back story and fluff of the Tactical Space Marine is at least. Unfortunately The Tactical Squad just doesn’t cut the mustard on the table. When my Salamander Space Marine army fist came into being it contained three full ten man Tactical Squads. Surely, I thought, a solid core of ultimate bad asses would be the base of a great army. Heavy weapons splitting into combat squads, Sergeants charging off with powerfists waving. But it was not to be. They proved to be largely ineffective. But why were the greatest soldiers of the forty first millennium failing so hard. There are two major problems with Tactical Squads.

Firstly the Tactical Squad is neither a dedicated close combat unit or a dedicated shooting unit. And suffers greatly because of this, not being able to deal with enemy assault units or form a shooting squad with less then ten troopers. Ah! but isn’t that the purpose of combat squads! Well yes, but it does little to solve the problems.

If fluff was represented by a paint job…
Taking a Tactical Squad with a flamer, Missile Launcher and Sergeant armed with a power fist might look like a decent way of splitting the capabilities of the squad, but there are huge problems. To get the most out of the squad it needs to split down into combat squads. In a third of your games you want to avoid small easily killed squads, and five marines is not a hard target, especially with wound allocation being able to knock off the few models with special gear.

Alternatively you can leave the squad whole combining the durability of a large squad and weight of fire. But the negatives are just as bad. Having a squad comprised mostly of boltguns means that infantry are the preferred target, wasting the hitting power of the free heavy weapons. It also makes the squad static. Moving with heavy or rapid fire weapons severely limits range and ability to fire. In this game static is dead.

If their rules were represented by a paint job…
Secondly, they’re scoring units. Now this shouldn’t be a big problem but it is. A squad that’s not very good at fighting and not good at shooting on the run is going to have some problems if it needs to move to objectives and then deal with anyone who might already be there or on the way. On the other hand sitting on an objective makes you predictable, another thing that your opponent can use to his advantage. A unit that needs to hold objectives and isn’t very good at either of the two unit roles in the game would be fine if they didn’t come with such a high price tag. And to make the squad better at either role it costs points, a lot of points.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, they boys do have a few options. Keeping the squad cheap is a must. Transports provide an armoured shell that needs to be cut through first. Combining this with the reserves rule, The squad hopefully will avoid the enemy until they cannot afford to spend the firepower attempting to destroy a transport and squad. A Rhino is preferable for the role as it’s so cheap. 125 points buys five Marines in a Rhino.

Drop pods give some interesting tactical advantages. They do need a full size squad to be bought but they allow a squad to break down into combat squads after arriving. Although they do need at least 2 in the list to avoid your scoring units arriving turn one. But the advantages are reasonably good. Using the Deep Strike rule to arrive with the pods rules to protect them, the squad can drop in close to enemy artillery pieces with a meltagun and combi-melta and clear objectives away from the main battle. Or just drop in away from everyone.

Another build for the Tactical Squad is commonly referred to as the “Melta Bunker”, involving as much melta in a squad as is possible and a Rhino transport. The idea being to move to a good shooting position and firing from the top hatch, preferably having the transport obscured. The squad still remains expensive, but is more mobile and has the option of dumping the squad out. I feel it still suffers too much from the problems above, as well as shaking the vehicle neuters it’s offensive ability.

They do remain quite tough with a 3+ armour save and the rule “And They Shall Know No Fear” give marines great chances of sticking around, not so much in combat but hugely from shooting. The nine inch potential move after a fall back means avoiding the enemy can be quite easy. Combat Tactics makes this very powerful but as the best Space Marine characters come with Chapter Tactics, it doesn’t appear all that often.

Being armed with Krak Grenades as standard also adds so utility against vehicles. Against armies like Imperial Guard some Tactical Marines near Hydras or Leman Russ Battletanks can help reduce incoming fire as they move to avoid automatic hits.

So to conclude, They’re expensive, not great at any particular role, too many will cripple you. But they do have some redeeming features. Keeping them cheap and going to ground in the face of low AP fire can give your opponent problems in target selection. It also allows you to take more of the heavy hitting stuff. Remember if your opponent hasn’t got any guns left he can’t hurt you back.

Coming soon to a War Alter near you:
Scouting it out.
Are the sneaky fellas any better then their power armoured buddies?

Dark Angels are back?

So I have been getting a lot of texts about the new DA FAQ and it has been discussed both on this site and others that maybe just maybe there is now the potential to make them work.

If you are interested in seeing what I have to say on the codex overall please read my Primer as posted here several months ago.

Lets see. The FAQ has fixed TH/SS issues, made the Apoth give his unit Fnp instead of the old rule, given us the Heavy 2 Cyclone and brought the PotmS and Smoke up to regulations.

Is this a really big deal? I don’t really think so.

Any army must have a certain number of things to make it work. The most obvious of these is the ability to shoot and the ability to assault. With DW these abilities IMO must be present in each squad or any opponent worth his salt, will merely shoot the assaulty stuff and assault the shooty stuff. I have agonised over the inclusion or removal of Chain Fists in each squad long enough to realise that it is a necessity.

Each squad should also have these things as they are the core of your army; with the base cost of 215 points for 5 lads, you don’t have the options that might otherwise be available to you.

The first reaction I had was to see how many TH/SS guys I can get on the pitch.

Belial; TH/SS
Command Squad; 5 X TH/SS, 1 Cyclone, Apoth.
5 X DW Squad; 5 X TH/SS, 1 Cyclone.

This leaves you with enough for 2 Speeders or a Chaplain/Libby.

Problems here are mainly due to a lack of S8 + and it is very slow, even with DW assault., Which I would be nervous about without Homers.

Lets spark this up somewhat and see what I would deem better. My main focus here will be on making each unit more diverse while also allowing for wound allocation, which when you have 30 figs, is your friend.

Belial; Claws.
Chaplain; Combi-Melta.
Command Squad; Apoth TH/SS, Cyclone TH/SS, Srg TH/SS, SB/CF, TLC
5 X DW Squads; TLC, TH/SS, Srg TH/SS, Cyclone SB/PF, SB/CF.

Even this doesn’t really do it for me. I think that they are too Swiss Army Knife, mainly because there are 5 squads.

Stormy sent me this list earlier today:

Belial; Claws
Command; Cyclone, SB/CF, 4 TH/SS
3 X DW Squads; 5 X TH/SS, 1 Cyclone
2 Speeders; M Melta, H. Flamer
2 Speeders; M Melta, H. Flamer
1 Speeder; M Melta, H. Flamer
Godraider, Extra Armour.

This could work, but the speeders are not reliable and the army lacks S8 +, with a single CF and the two Lascannons, the fact that it is a Godhammer means will also not be played as aggressively as it needs to be.Also the God Raider only has capacity for 10 models so Belial will be walking with the others.

My army from 3 Warpcons ago seems to have most of the pieces I think might be needed.

Belial; Claws
Command; Banner TH/SS, Srg TH/SS, Apoth TLC, H. Flamer/CF, TH/SS.
2 X DW Squads; Srg TH/SS, Cyclone TH/SS, SB/CF, TH/SS, TLC.
2 X Ven Dread, Lascannon/Missile Launcher
Ven Dread; Auto Cannon, H Flamer, Extra Armour.
Land Raider Crusader; Extra Armour.
Speeder, M Melta, H. Flamer.

Having said all this, I think that the addition of one or two extra TH/SS into my most recent Raven Death list would prob be the best as it will give the army the speed it needs while bringing in more Melta and Sammy on his Speeder.

Belial; TLC
Samael; Speeder
DW Command, Apoth TLC, Srg SB/PW, Ass Cannon/PF, SB/CF, TH/SS.
2 X DW Squads; TLC, Srg SB/PW, Cyclone SB/PF, SB/CF, TH/SS.
RW Command; Srg PF, Apoth Plasma, Plasma, Attack Bike M Melta.
RW Squad; Srg PF, 2 X Melta, Attack Bike M Melta.
Speeder; M Melta, Ass Cannon
Speeder; M Melta, Ass Cannon

The later would be my preference in terms of play style and competition. I know that others will disagree. I would like to try out the first list with all the TH/SS and I’m sure it will make an appearance.

I may have to start playing these lads again as it could be that my best general is in jeopardy once people realise what these lads are capable of.

ETC Defensive/Hammer combi list

So let’s set the scene.
You’re captain of the Irish ETC team, it’s a young team with hardly any history. This is a good thing as much a bad thing, you have little history to instill pride in the team, but you also have the opportunity to set the scene, a clean sheet of sorts.

So you’ll have a decision to make bringing an Irish team (led by two previous ETC veterans in the form of Vice Captain Paul Quigley and Captain Richard Flood) to Switzerland in 2011. What do you want the composition of your team to be?
As regards the players on the team, the Irish team is chosen from the best and most dedicated players in the country, primarily using the rankings from Rankings HQ. With this calibre of player at his disposition, most of whom play more than one army, the captain has a lot of freedom to choose what kind of team he wants to field.
What does that mean though? What kind of team? Codex Space Marines or Codex Blood Angels? No that’s not quite what it is. This has been discussed extensively by many in other blogs (check out Darragh Cullen’s blog for example). Should a captain take intentionally defensive lists? If so how many? Hammer lists? Shooty lists? Assaulty lists? Or just let the best players take the list they want to take and would normally do well with.
Last year the team had a diverse selection, Imperial Guard, Orks, Witch Hunters, Eldar, Space Marines, Blood Angels, Tyranids, Chaos Space Marines, Dark Angels, Dark Eldar. So it was more of a case of players taking what they wanted and doing well with it rather than the captain imposing any kind of selection rules. The team however did communicate regularly with each other about improving each others lists and a lot of list discussion took place before the tournament (particularly regarding a certain Chaos Space Marines list) and this was quite important.
So this year the captain has a lot to consider. I’m here to present a list I think could fit into an ETC squad. It’s cheeky and would require good target priority from its general but I think it presents a lot of unique applications on the ETC scene and would like to see what our readers think.
Null Zone
Gate of Infinity
Terminator Assault Squad (5)
5 Thunder Hammer/Storm Shield
Terminator Assault Squad (5)
5 Thunder Hammer/Storm Shield
Dedicated Transport
Land Raider
Extra Armour
Scout Squad (7)
7 Sniper Rifles
Camo Cloaks
Heavy Bolter
Scout Squad (7)
7 Sniper Rifles
Camo Cloaks
Scout Squad (5)
Combi Melta
Scout Squad (5)
Combi Melta
Scout Squad (5)
Combi Melta
Land Speeder Storm
Multi Melta
Land Speeder Storm
Multi Melta
Land Speeder Storm
Multi Melta
Thunderfire Cannon
Thunderfire Cannon
Land Raider
Extra Armour
1749 points
So now that I’ve sat down and written the list it’s quite different to what I thought it might be 🙂
But in the words of Oisin McCormack:
“It’s hard to think defensive when you’re a super aggressive arrogant fuck! Go warheads!”
Let’s go through some of the unit selection.
The Librarian, with gate, the cheekiest of gypsie moves, take a unit with him if he wants and Null Zone, for rerolling successful invulnerable saves within 24”, good for when forcing enemy bikes/jetbikes to take dangerous terrain checks due to the Thunderfire Cannons. Also good for taking out Thunderwolves in combat or with shooting. Where does he go? In a raider with a hammer unit. Extends his bubble slightly for Null Zone and the psychic hood and gives him a comfortable warm home for the game if you want him to stay safe.
The hammer units, nothing ground breaking here, two 5 man thunder hammer/storm shield terminator units in Land Raiders. Nice counter attack for facing certain lists (Ork nobs, nids with list of MCs, Wolves). Couple of God Hammer pattern Land Raiders goes down easy with any player but like I say. Nothing ground breaking here.
Next up, the troops. The two sniper scout squads hug some ruins which have been bolstered and stay put, capturing a couple of objectives.
The three 5 man squads are obvious enough suicide units, scout moving up into the opponents face and crippling some lists (double hammers) right off the bat, heavy mech lists will not like these units obviously enough. And if you don’t get first turn simply outflank and salt to taste.
The Storms have multi meltas, just to make sure the enemy can’t ignore them and they have a good chance of getting the job done.
My opinions are well known on the Thunderfires and how awesome they are so I won’t go into that here but I think they mess up some opponents quite extensively.
I don’t envisage this list making it to ETC, I do however think it achieves what I want it to and that is to make you think about the possibilities that the ETC opens up when allowing you to think outside the box when list building.
You’d rarely see Thunderfire Cannons around but guess what I came up against last year at ETC? Bingo. ETC allows less typically competitive units to see the light of day on the chance that you can mess your opponent country up with your funky unit selection.
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