I've been thinking lately about the common statement that in 40k more things die in assaults, and sure, one close-combat specialist unit may kill more in close-combat than a specialised ranged unit in the shooting phase, but is close combat actually better?
I'm going to set the ball rolling by talking about what I consider to be the 3 top codecies in the game right now. Grey Knights, Space Wolves and Imperial Guard, and seeing how they use a combination of the 2.
I'll start off with what I consider to be the 3rd most powerful codex, which in my opinion is Space Wolves. Now, I am by no means an expert on Space Wolves, in fact, I believe that in your wargaming community you will be hard pressed to find a player who knows less about Space Wolves than me. To put it another way, I have been into minature wargaming ince 2003 and I have never played with, or against, Space Wolves. But the little knowledge that I do have is that a top-tier Space Wolf list will not leave home without a pack of Long Fangs, probably with missile launchers, despite the fact that Space Wolves like to get up close and personal with their opposition with their short range, and this is likely to lead them into combat. Yet they still bring an excellent ranged element to the field.
The second most powerful codex in my opinion is Grey Knights. Now this I do have a little bit more experience with but not much, and every time that I have played GK, I have been facing between 3 and 5 psyfleman dreads. These induce a heck of a lot of terror into my Ork army, not only are they one of the few things that I struggle to hide my Trukks from, but when they do pop my Trukks, they are doubling my Nobz out, making my Nobz extremely vulnerable to them. Grey Knights are probably the worst match up that I can get, and the more psyflemen they have (and they will have some) the worse it is. Yet, I consider Grey Knights to be a close range/close-combat army. Just look at their close-combat units, Paladins and Purifiers are just the start.
Now, to bring onto Imperial Guard, they are definitely a shooty army, there is absolutely no doubt about it. But whereas Grey Knights and Space Wolves need to bring some long range firepower to back them up, do Guard have to bring some close-combat or short ranged units in order to back up their long range firepower? No. Yeah, you often see Guard using blob squads to bubble wrap vehicles, but really I don't consider this a close-combat element, more to prevent the precious vehicles from being hit in assault than to actually cause some damage with the blob themselves (although running 50 guardsmen, a commisar and 5 other power weapons can be pretty effective).
When I took my triple Nobz squad list to a local tournament, granted I only lost 1 game, but I struggled. But now that I have dropped a squad and taken 2 squads of 10 Lootas, the list has dramatically improved. I am now able to deal with Dark Eldar, and it stops my opponents from just moving around and shooting. So the conclusion here really is, you can build a competitive shooty list without specialised close-combat units (although bubblewrap units are useful), but you can't build a competitive close ranged army without some long ranged support, and if you're not including at least a bit of ranged, I feel that you are missing out on a whole aspect of the game. Apologies for my noobishness.
On a side note, instead of just inserting posts here there and everywhere about 'things I did', I am confining this to a regular schedule. So every Sunday (hopefully), I shall post about what I have painted, whether I've played any games, created a new list I have made that I will actually get round to using/making, etc. Therefore, you will now be able to tell more easily which posts may be useful, and which may not. I.e, ones that weren't posted on Sundays may be the more useful.
That's all for today, the topic of ranged versus close-combat is to be continued in part 2.