Sunday, 30 December 2012

Is Dual Force Org Bad? - A Response

I thought I'd do something a little different for the last post of 2012. Therefore I'm going to be doing a response to something that was posted earlier in the year.

The post that I'm going to be replying to is from a very famous 40k blog. 'Yes the truth hurts' run by Stelek, and although it is extremely unlikely that he reads this poky little blog, I'd like to make my point anyway. I disagree with Stelek 99% of the time, but I've picked this post in relation to the fact that at its core it regards the big 40k news for the year. I could have gone with the whole, 'Forge World in tournaments' debate, but as it stands I haven't attended a single Forge World allowing tournament, and so have a lack of experience, although I do have 3 of them lined up in the next 2 months.

I'm not going to link to the post in question here, but if you go to Yes the Truth Hurts and enter '2 FOC is bad' you'll get the post. It came out a week after 6th edition, and so was probably a bit hasty and a bit full of nerd rage but that's no excuse for a poorly thought out argument, especially from such a well known blog and especially when you're going to use demeaning and offensive language to describe anyone that doesn't agree with your proposition.

Onto the subject of this post, as you may have probably guessed, the proposition made by Stelek is that dual force org is bad for the game. By this, we mean the rule that states that once a game reaches 2,000pts or more, you double the number of force organisation slots available to you. You now have access to 4 HQ choices, 6 Elites, and so on.

He begins the article with the following introduction,

'Here are some broken lists.

Are the Unbeatable at 2k?

Well, you tell me.'

He then ends the post with,

'Seriously, you thought 40k5e was boring?

Play against any of these armies and your brain will shut right off'

During the article, he then proceeds to create lists for 4 different army books, all of which he deems broken by telling the reader what they will think when they face them across the table. Those who agree with him, also post more of these 'broken' lists, often using different Codecies, in the comments section of the post. Now here's the hypocrisy.

Let's say that the dual force org Space Wolves army that he has built plays against the dual force org Ork army from the same article. This is a perfectly legitimate situation, as in a dual force org 2,000pt game both armies have access to the dual force org. Now, if these 2 lists come against each other are they both still unbeatable?

Now let's assume that all Codecies have the potential to make what Stelek defines has, 'unbeatable' combinations using the double force org, and let's say that you're at an extremely competitive 2,000pt tournament that allows double force organisation, or you're in the top bracket of a GT in the U.S which is allowing double force org, and everyone has brought one of these lists. Are they all still unbeatable? Does this mean that no-one will win any games, and no-one will lose any games? Does every game result in a draw?

Of course it doesn't. I am always very hasty before labelling a unit, a Codex, or a list as broken. This is because if everything in a room is broken, then nothing is. If you have 2 armies that are broken fighting against each other, are they still both broken within the context of that game? No they are not, they cancel each other out. Sure, the game may be a better match up for one army than the other, but lists don't have to be broken for this to apply. You can turn up to a fluffy tournament with your fluffy list and play against another fluffy list, with your list essentially able to cope with your opponents better than your opponent's is able to cope with yours, but does that make your list any more broken? No, it means it's a good match up.

In the same way, in a room full of 'broken' lists, because dual force org has been enabled, is your list still broken? Broken can generally be defined (in my opinion, feel free to disagree with me) as so powerful that it ruins the game for your opponent. If you have 2 of these lists pitched against each other then they are evenly matched, and so are not ruining the game for your opponent and so are not broken or unbeatable.

If you have a dual force org list playing against a list that is only allowed 1 force organisation chart, sure the dual force org list has a huge advantage. But at the end of the day, this is never going to be the case. In the same way, if you wanted to play a triple force organisation game, and both armies are subjected to this, go for it, you're both subjected to the same restrictions, or lack thereof.

I realise that I'm probably repeating myself here so I'm going to wrap this up.

My favourite quote from the article is a comment that is left by Stelek himself, and it reads,

'No, 2 FOC is just bad. Period. There are no ifs.'

Making an absolute statement that dual force org is bad for the game with no evidence to support this claim other than posting a number of army lists that would be evenly matched against each other is not a strong argument.

If everyone's army list is 'unbeatable', nobody's is.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Chaos Marine Analysis - Possessed

Today comes the conclusion of the Chaos Marine Analysis segment, and about time too really, this concluding over 2 months after the release of the book. However, if you have enjoyed this segment, never fear, for it will be back in January with Dark Angels. I also hope to be releasing a PDF of all of the articles that I've done on this subject with additional visuals aids and pictures to try and break up the enormous wodge of text that has gone up here, so stay tuned for that. In the mean time, here comes the final unit on the agenda. Possessed.

Compared to a base marine, they have quite a bit going for them statline wise. +1 attack, leadership and strength are all very useful in close combat. They also come with a 5+ invulnerable save, fearless and fear (whoo!).

In essence, this is a close combat unit that is designed to mash marines. A be squad. 15 attacks on the charge, 7.5 hit, 5 wound, 1.67 dead marines. Not fantastic, but then take a look at the Vessels of Chaos special rule, whereby you re-roll to wound, count as AP 3 or get +1 attack and initiative.

So, the first possibility. 7.5 hits, 5 wound, 6.67 wound. 2.2 dead marines. Maybe the next one will be a little better. 7.5 hits, 5 wounds, 5 dead marines. Now that's a bit more like it. Now the last one. 10 hits, 6.67 wounds, 2.2 dead marines, the same as the first. Ah.

So essentially, you have a 33% chance of doing a decent amount of damage to marines in combat. They aren't great against much else either, against hordes they churn out too few hits for their points for the opponent to care and they don't have the AP to deal with Terminators.

Granted, you can take them in a squad of 20 but that's one enormous points sink that you've got there, coming in at over 500pts before marks and icons.

Plus, they have to make it into combat, they're fearless marines with a 5+ invulnerable. Granted the invulnerable is nice when I'm throwing missiles at them all day look but I have enough shots to bring them down, especially when considering that a possessed Marne costs more than a long fang with a missile launcher.

So you can stick them in a Land Raider, but why would you waste over 200pts on transportation when a squad of 10 won't do too much damage considering how much it cost when it hits, bearing in mind that the champion (yes, there's a possessed champion) will be in a challenge. Maybe they could jump out and take 2 assault phases to bring down their prey, but even if they get a second squad they're still unlikely to make their points back including the raider.

Marks. I'd say that the marks of Tzeentch and Nurgle are the best here. If you're running them in a Land Raider yes you could go for Mark of Khorne but then you're more likely to win the combat in a single assault have and get shot up in the next turn.

Tzeentch provides the improved invulnerable save but with the increased effectiveness of rapid fire in this edition I'd go Nurgle, allowing you to shrug off more 'small arms' fire, and yet some of the heavier stuff will be soaked up by the invuln. The Nurgle mark is also slightly cheaper per model.

The problem then comes with if you want to walk them across the field, meaning that you'll have to increase their unit size to survive, meaning that you're pumping more points into the squad and it is also attracting more attention, meaning that it will eat more shooting so you'll further need to increase the squad size.

All in all, I think that Possessed will struggle to see combat, I played against them on Friday and although the did make it that was when a Lone Wolf charged them and made his points back pretty quickly.

So, I think that this is another unit that I am tempted to get, as it fits in with my Word Bearers and it looks like a lot of fun. But f I was building a competitive army here, I would steer clear if I'm being perfectly honest, more points for your Fast Attack.

And there we have it, this segment is done. So I'll quickly sum up.

The Fast Attack slot is clearly the most competitive in the Codex, with Bikers, Heldrakes and Spawn very legitimate choices. That said, I think that you will really struggle to do well in this edition without some firepower, and although your Heldrakes can help to neuter your opponent's equivalent, you really need to look to the Heavy Support slots. Obliterations and Havocs are your friend.

I don't think that the Codex will be mono-build, and although Typhus is far and away the best special character in the book, I still think that it's possible to build a good list without him.

All in all, the book is generally well costed. I may be coming back to this in the near future to see how my opinion has changed, along with list ideas and the suchlike, but in the next few weeks I would mainly like to concentrate on some other stand-alone ideas that I have rattling around in my head.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Chaos Marine Analysis - Helbrute

I postponed this post by a day in an attempt to get my Word Bearers Helbrute finished paint wise but unfortunately this has not happened so I'm going to release the post anyway.

The Helbrute is essentially a Chaos Dreadnought, which isn't a great starting point in this edition. Traditionally, there have been 3 ways to kit out a Dreadnought. For Close combat, for ranged support and for dropping in and shooting a tank.  We can rule out the latter because drop pods are not available in the Chaos Codex. Also think that we can discount the former.

With the coming of 6th edition close combat Dreadnought suffered a serious downgrade. Firstly, you can't tie up things as effectively any more, due to the fact that now if you are unable to harm a unit you can choose to fail your leadership check at the end of the combat, leaving it.

Additionally, anything that can hurt you is probably going to be doing so with Grenades, and I'll likely have enough bodies to bring you down. Even if they don't , they may have combat tactics to simply walk out of the combat anyway and shoot you to death.

Even if the Helbrute does somehow end up tying a unit up, it doesn't do enough damage to make up his points. Besides, he's slow and unlikely to get into combat with anything that wants to avoid him.

So, the only option left is to build him in a shooty kind of way. Right? Well there are a few problems with this. Ok, he's 100pts stock and for his durability that's not appalling. It's not fantastic value but it is not that bad.

So how much damage can he put out? Well the first point of call would be to swap out his power fist, as a close combat it is kind of redundant. You can swap this out for a missile launcher for an extra 10% of its points cost, and that's it. It doesn't even come with Flakk. So the only really variety in shooting weapons comes when you swap out your stock shooting weapon, which makes sense, but isn't very helpful.

You can get another power fist, which you shouldn't touch. A twin-linked heavy bolter for 5% extra, a reaper autocannon for the same, a plasma cannon for double, or a twin-linked Lascannon for an extra 25%.

You're going to want something that complements the Missile Launcher. Something long range, that can deal with light-medium armoured vehicles and high toughness models but also able to do a little against infantry.

Well the only option that matches the range of the Missile Launcher is the twin Lascannon, which is overcosted and not great against infantry. And then everything else is 12" shorter, which isn't bad.

I probably wouldn't go for the heavy bolter. It isn't high enough strength to damage vehicles and it doesn't pump out enough shots with that and it's medium AP to be fantastic against most infantry. Anything with a low armour saves has too many bodies to care, and anything with a good armour value doesn't care because of it.

So that leaves the Autocannon and the Plasma Cannon. The Autocannon is Twin-linked, and is probably a tad better for vehicle killing, whilst the Plasma cannon benefits from the lower AP and thus is better for heavy infantry death. It's all a matter of preference, because in my mind none of this really matters.

The Helbrute also 'benefits' from the Crazed special rule. This comes into effect every time it suffers a glancing or penetrating hit.

The first possibility is quite helpful. Although it is immobilised, all of its weapons fire twice that shooting phase. Although the target unit must be the one that caused the damage, which is why duality is important. The problem being that you don't get to choose the target, meaning that your opponent can often bait it's fire.

The second one is ok now that rage isn't a downside, so it recovers from shaken and stunned results.

The third one is equally unhelpful. It is the same as the previous roll but also means that your Helbrute must run toward the enemy, robbing you of your shooting phase and forcing you to move backwards to avoid running out of the cover that you will have initially placed your Helbrute in to make it more durable.

So, if your Helbrute is damaged, there is a 66% chance that you won't be able to fire at your preferred target this turn.

To sum up, you can't drop out of the sky and take out a vehicle, close combat dreadnoughts are dead, and you'll struggle to make a decent shooting platform out of it. Cool model, fun rules, but not particularly competitive. That said, as I have the model, I might as well try to make it work.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Chaos Marine Analysis - Mutilators

 Before getting into the swing of the post, I feel like this blog needs a picture in it. So here is some of my progress to my tournament army. I'm aiming to have it all done by 10th January. To avoid that mad painting rush for both Perils of the Warp 2 and Throne of Skulls. But anyway.

Getting the 2+ save section of the Codex finished today I've decided to move onto Mutilators as the topic of today's post. Now these have definitely been the subject of internet hate, but are they really that bad?

Well, at first glance they appear to be an attempt to make a Chaos Marine equivalent to the Paladin. They are 2 wound Terminators and they have the same points cost per model as a Paladin, but there are a few key differences. Firstly, they only have a 5+ invulnerable save, generated from being a Daemon. Secondly, there is absolutely no capacity in the Codex to take them as Troops. Thirdly, their wargear options are extremely limited, and so have no capacity to take anything that shoots whatsoever. Fourthly, they can't churn out as many attacks as Paladins and when they do they are restricted to a maximum of initiative 4. Fifthly, you can only take a maximum of 3 in a squad. And finally, they have a pretty low leadership and a bang average weapon skill. So not like Paladins at all then.

The problem with Mutilators is that you look at their statline and see all of the cool gear that they can morph, making you think, 'if I can maybe get at least 5 of these and get into my enemy's lines I could cause some real damage here'. The problem then comes in the fact that you can't do that, as you're limited to such small squads.

Let's say that you have 3 Mutilators, completely naked, charge a squad of 10 tactical marines. You break out the dual lightning claws. 4 attacks each on the charge, 12, 6 hits, re-rolls, 9 hits. 4.5 dead tactical marines. 64 points worth. No problem, now I'm locked in the combat until next turn so I don't get shot at. 11 tac marine attacks at the same time. 5.5 hits, 2.75 wounds, you should be fine.

Next round of assault comes around. 9 attacks, but now you're probably going to be using Chainfists, you'll also probably have lost a wound by now to tactical marine hits. 9 attacks, 4.5 hits, 3.75 dead tactical marines. In 2 rounds of combat you have killed 8.25 of some of the most standard Troops in the game. You'll kill the remainder in your turn and then your opponent can turn their guns on you if they really want to. It has taken you 3 assault phases to get through that.

Now you can give them veterans of the long war, which would probably have you done with the Marines in 2 assault phases, but this doesn't help you get through not Marine armies and it almost bumps you up to 60pts per model. However, I would still take it just for the Leadership bonus, as the moment you lose a Mutilator is the moment that you take a test on an Imperial Guard Sergeant's Leadership otherwise.

There are a couple of things that you can do to reduce the chances of losing guys, the Marks of Tzeentch and Nurgle are again the main proprietors of this. T5 is useful as it prevents you from getting doubled out very often, although it is spendy, but so is Tzeentch, again improving your invulnerable save. But this isn't making them any more of a threat, all you're doing is inflating their points cost to make them more durable. I made this point with the Defiler, durability isn't really their problem, especially after securing their LD a little bit more, the problem is that they simply don't hit hard enough.

Moving onto Slaanesh and Khorne. You can skip over Slaanesh to some degree as you don't really care whether or not your Initiative is buffed as you can take the hits anyway (See Chaos Terminators). So Khorne is the choice here, an additional +1 attack on the charge. So 3 more attacks against that tac marine squad. 1.5 hits, 2.25 hits after re-rolls, 1.125 additional wounds. It's still not doing the business, and by now your Mutilators are hitting almost 65pts after Vets.

Then you face the problem of getting them into combat. You can deep strike them, which gives your opponent another turn to point their guns at you, or move their guys away as Mutilators aren't particularly fast. Or you could put them in a Land Raider, in which case you will be paying almost 400pts for this squad. Fantastic.

So, in answer to the question at the start, yes. Yes they are.

That said, I'm afraid I'm going to have to steal an idea from somewhere else at the minute, although as a student I should really know how to reference. I was listening to the 40kUk Podcast the other day, the episode entitled, 'The Big Fight III' and they were interviewing the player that came 3rd in the most recent GT qualifier with Chaos Space Marines, and one of his Elites choices were Mutilators.

And what he was doing was what I thought a really good idea. He was just using a lone Mutilator, and dropping it into his opponent's backfield to score a linebreaker point, hiding it after the deep strike. It's not threatening enough to warrant shooting at, and any shots that do come its way it can generally shrug off.

So, if you're going to run Mutilators, as far as I've seen that's probably the way to go.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Chaos Marine Analysis - Chaos Terminators

With Abaddon being done a few days back the HQ section has been concluded, meaning that it is now time to move on to the final section of the Codex, of which there are only four units remaining: Possessed, Terminators, Mutilators and Helbrutes. Unfortunately, at a glance this section looks like a bastion of negativity, but I suppose my opinion could change when I go into a bit more depth.

I decided the topic of today's post on a dice roll. Terminators it is.

Since the release of the book I've seen a bit of Chaos Terminator hate around, not too much, but it's there. To be honest, I don't think that they're that bad. Comparing them to what I know, a Wolf Guard kitted out in exactly the same way as a base Chaos Terminator costs 2pts more.

So jumping into loadouts. You obviously come with a Power Weapon as base. This post could be a little long, as there are quite a lot of options for these guys, but to be honest this blog needs a long post after a week of silence.

So, power weapons. You could take the sword, who's unique selling point is letting you keep your initiative and still have an anti-MEQ AP. You could take the Axe, which brings you back to the point in 5th where power weapons would hurt Terminators and their equivalents, as well as giving you +1 strength, although you do lose your initiative. You could take the stave, which lets you keep your initiative and lets you strike at S6, although your AP isn't great.

I would probably go with the Axe. Simply because anything that will really hurt you will be striking at I1 anyway. By this, I mean that the vast majority of AP2 close combat weapons also strike at I1, Power and Chainfists, Thunder Hammers and Power/Force Axes all strike at I1, anything that is striking before you is probably going to be striking at AP3 or worse, like the Power Sword, and although chucking a boatload of attacks at your Terminators will probably hurt, for the most part you won't care too much about it, as you only have a 1/6 chance of dying to each wound caused. Therefore, you're going to be striking most of the time anyway despite your low initiative simply because you aren't going to take much damage before striking.

Moving on. You can take a plethora of other special close combat weapons too. By making your Terminator almost 35pts you can give him a Lightning Claw, which, although is nice, when you take initiative out of the question due to your durability, I'd prefer have +1S and anti-TEQ weaponry for cheaper as oppose to re-rolls to hit and purely anti-MEQ weaponry.

Chaos Terminators do have the ability to get fists at a decent cost though. A Chaos Terminator with a Power Fist still weighs in at under 40pts. However, I still probably wouldn't take a Power Fist. The difference between a Power Fist and a Power Axe when hitting a benchmark tac marine in combat is that 1 wounds on 3s and the other wounds on 2s but is much more expensive. Other than that, you have the potential to cause instant death with a Power Fist, but this isn't going to occur very often.

Your Terminators aren't characters, so they aren't going to be involved on 1 vs 1 bouts with opposing characters, meaning that they can often take their opponent down through weight of AP2 attacks. Your Champion will have to challenge in the first round, tying the multi-wound model up whilst your Terminators deal with his friends, and then once your Champion has been killed more attacks are going to be allocated to the opposing character. Not much can stand up to Terminators in combat nowadays other than other Terminators.

A word of caution here though. Terminators from any other Marine Codex have the option to take Storm Shields, yours do not. Therefore, in a slug fest with another squad your Terminators are going to be in trouble, so try to soften up the opposing squad before getting stuck in. Or just try to avoid the opposing squad, which will be difficult if, for example, there's a librarian with Gate of Infinity in there.

But anyway, back to Power Fists. You could take a couple of them in the squad just for a little bit of heavy hitting, but I wouldn't go overboard.

When I first saw the Chainfist however I was quite tempted to take this instead. It's only 5pts more than a Power Fist and it comes with that excellent anti-vehicle capability. But at the end of the day, and when I started to think about it a little more, how many vehicles are you going to get into combat with. As I've said in previous posts, at the minute the only vehicles that we're seeing a backline shooty vehicles and flyers. Now, you can't hit the flyers, but maybe you can get back and wreck some vehicles, deep striking in and punching a Manticore or something.

The only problem with this is that if you're against an opponent that knows what they're doing they're going to bubble wrap their vehicles. By this I mean place a squad of infantry around the vehicle so that if you want to hit it you'll have to get through them first, essentially giving your opponent an extra turn of shooting at your Terminators and a good opportunity to move the vehicle in question away. Putting pain to my idea of getting a small squad of 3 Terminators to deep strike behind enemy lines with a Chainfist and Mark of Tzeentch, the Chainfist at the back whilst the bare models take the hits before they charge in and wreck a vehicle, for almost 125pts.

Whilst I've mentioned Mark of Tzeentch it's probably a good idea to move onto the Marks now. The cheapest Mark is once again Khorne, which isn't bad really as you're going to want to get this unit into combat but you're really going to want to make your Terminators as durable as possible, they're already pretty durable but you can really sap some fire with other Marks. Mark of Slaanesh is not one of these Marks. As you're going to want to be taking unwieldy weapons anyway the initiative bonus isn't helpful. Access to the Icon of Excess is good, but extremely spendy.

So, Tzeentch and Nurgle. I like the former, as what it essentially does is increase your invulnerable save to a 4+, making up for the lack of being able to take a Storm Shield as best it can. Mark of Nurgle's pretty good too, the +1 to toughness is really helpful, but anything that is going to worry you, i.e. AP2 or better weaponry, is usually going to be S7+ anyway, ignoring your T5. Therefore, I'd take Mark of Tzeentch to sure you up a bit more against those low AP hits.

Finishing up on Icons as well, the Icon of Vengeance is extremely useful, the last thing that you want is your expensive squad of Terminators running at the wrong moment, or running at all for that matter. The key word there is expensive. If you're taking a small squad of Terminators, which you have the option to do with the squad size being between 3 and 10, then I wouldn't bother, as the icon is quite spendy and with a small squad quite easy to snipe out. With a bigger squad it's much more worthwhile taking the insurance as the consequences of not could be disastrous, plus it is easier to hide in a squad.

To finish off the wargear, section of this post are the shooting weapons. i.e. The combi-weapons. These only cost 5pts each, and can be pretty effective. For an extra 50pts on my enormous hammer unit of Terminators I can hurl out 20 S7 AP2 shots at BS4. That ought to soften up those TH SS Terminators a bit. But where I'm seeing this again is in a deep striking anti-vehicular squad. Deep striking 3 Terminators completely bare apart from these combi-weapons, coming in at just over 100pts. Sure your opponent is going to bubble wrap and sure he'll have a cover save but even after that and rolling to hit and penetrate you're still odds on to get at least 1 penetrating hit with an AP1 weapon. Add to that the firepower that you're likely to soak up as your opponent tries to prevent you from scoring linebreaker and that's a pretty nifty little unit.

Yes your opponent could bubble wrap heavily to try and stop you from deep striking within 6” and yes you could scatter but you're either still durable enough to walk back into range from the next shooting turn if your opponent doesn't fully commit, making them an excellent distraction, or your opponent will have to commit lots of bodies to simply preventing this cheap squad from getting close to his or her vehicles. That's not bad at all.

If you're looking to run them as a hammer there are a couple of things that you can do. To get them into combat. You can obviously run them in a Land Raider, or you can take advantage of their ability to deep strike. So they're going to get into combat a little more quickly than other units. This does restrict which special character you can put in there though but that doesn't really matter, it's not like you're going to put Kharn in there as he'll just chop up your own dudes.

Anyway, I'm tired, and confronted with a lot of painting to do and a lot of bits to list on eBay, so this is going to be left here. Plus I'm on there 3rd page of open office. Until next time.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Chaos Marine Analysis - Abaddon and Chosen

The last day or so has heralded the time after a Codex drop when I begin to think about lists, and I've had one list in particular bashing around my head. No it's not the Typhus Zombie horde. I'll come on to that later, after I've finished the unit analysis.

Today though it's the turn of Abaddon and his Chosen. So I'm going to dive straight in with that. Starting with the prospective Troops choice, as I always do.

Chosen are essentially Chaos Marines with +1 attack and leadership, access to lots of special weapons, and a highly inflated points cost. So, comparing them to the rubric of durability and points, they are just as durable as standard Chaos Marines for objective grabbing with the only up side being the improved leadership, although you have access to this on the Marines. And as for the points cost, they're more expensive. They're slightly more fighty if someone gets into your backfield but anything that gets into your backfield will be something that can be handled by normal Marines. Don't take them as Troops, they are not useful.

The only use for it being that if you push them forwards they will be able to score off your opponents objectives. But honestly, how often do you have enough time to get up to your opponents deployment zone, push them off an objective with a power armoured close combat unit, and secure it, ensuring that you can't be knocked off in return? Not often.

Now, how are they as an elites choice?

This is a little more difficult as I don't have much to compare them with, as everything else so far I've really said, take as a Troops choice to, or completely disregarded.

The key difference between Chosen and Marines is that Chosen will cause more damage when they get into combat. You have access to more special weapons, you have more attacks and a higher leadership. So, they hit harder, but are more expensive.

So I trundle up to the enemy lines in my Land Raider, I'm not going to be going on foot as they're still only as tough as Marines and a Rhino is essentially going on foot but giving away first blood in the process, because they're so fragile. So Land Raider it is.

Anyway, I come up to the enemy lines, dive out of my Land Raider with my tooled up close combat Chosen, and you will smash apart the first unit that you hit. The problem then comes that your expensive, hard hitting Marines with an enormous target on their foreheads are now likely to be in the open, and are going to get shot to pieces before they get to charge again, as your opponent has seen how much damage they can cause, and will move away with their closer units and use the shooting that they will have brought in the current edition to blow the Chosen away, and with them the large number of points that you invested into them, and was the Land Raider really worth it t get them into combat?

You can probably do a better job with tooled up Chaos Marines, they will do the business but not as quickly, remaining locked in combat, and if they are released into the open by the enemy unit they're cheap enough not to matter too much if they are killed. So, I'm not a particularly big fan of Chosen.


Now, Abaddon is a beast, he's a little cheaper than he was in the previous Codex, which is good, but the problem that I have is that I can't help comparing him to Typhus. I'm going to break this down.

For Typhus:

Typhus is 35pts cheaper than Abaddon. Typhus unlocks Plague Marines as Troops, Abaddon allows you to unlock Chosen. Typhus lets you take Zombies, Abaddon doesn't. Typhus is slightly more durable on a wound to wound basis than Abaddon. Typhus is a psyker. Typhus has Blight Grenades.

For Abaddon:

The only guy in the Chaos Codex to have Eternal Warrior. Has all of the Marks of Chaos. Unlike Typhus, his Warlord trait isn't utterly terrible. Can choose between 2 different weapons.

I'm not saying that Abaddon is terrible, he's a close combat monster. The forcing to challenge doesn't help him but then again a lot of the time enemies will challenge him anyway to minimize damage. What I'm saying is why would you take Abaddon when you could have Typhus?

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Chaos Marine Analysis - Typhus, Plague Marines and Plague Zombies

This post has taken me a little longer than usual, this is because it's a bumper edition, as Typhus brings with him a parade of units to talk about. Hence the long title. But I'd better dive in as this is going to take long enough without an introduction.

Plague Marines are coming up first. As you'd expect, they are the toughest of the cult troops. T5, Feel No Pain, Fearless, etc. So I'm going to open this up with how well they do as troops. With your backfield, objective grabbing units you want 2 things. Durability, and a relatively low points cost. The durability to ensure that they don't get knocked off the board and the points cost because they aren't going to be involved with the main fight most of the time due to other priorities and you want as few points tied up in this as possible.

This can often be tough to balance. So, how would Plague Marines do it. Stock 5 man squad, boom. 5 Plague Marines in cover are going to be a little daunting for your opponent to shift, especially with all of your other goodness stomping across the field at them. Therefore, you don't need to pour almost 25pts more per model into making the unit slightly more durable, as it will end up becoming hideously expensive.

Plasma Pistols, don't bother, far too expensive, despite the fact that it's extremely unlikely that a Plague Marine will die from it overheating. Flamer, Meltagun, short ranged story, Plasma, maybe, a little expensive for something that is probably only going to be getting 1 shot all of the time, although you can move around, so long as you can be sure of getting to the objective in time for turn 5.

Leave the Champion alone, he's decent in a challenge anyway with his T5 plus it's such an unlikely scenario that it's not worth pouring into it. Plus Blight Grenades are excellent anyway as it can really blunt your opponent's charge, giving you the upper hand in the inevitable challenge.

Icon of Despair, Fear is a terrible power, it's not worth committing more points into it. Veterans of the Long War is also a no, as although you will become more useful at dish out out damage, that's not their primary purpose, and it could often tempt you into committing them when you shouldn't.

So going forward, how are they? Well they aren't going to dish out too much damage, but they can be an excellent tarpit. T5, Fearless and FNP make them very difficult to kill but removing all charge bonuses from your enemy unit really helps. The best way to deal with them really is to shoot them, but your opponent only has so much shooting.

The only other downside is that they're not particularly fast, like spawn are, so your opponent has the opportunity to simply avoid them. Which then leads you to the question of why not just take Spawn? They're faster, more durable, cheaper and will probably dish out a decent amount of damage too. Plague Marines get 2 attacks due to their dual close combat weapons, but at the end of the day they don't penetrate armour. Granted it's 4+ poisened, but it's still not fantastic unless you pour a ton of points in there to get a lot of attacks.

Out of all of the God specific marines, I would say that Plague Marines are the best, they're good at holding back on objectives and they're not terrible pushing forward, but we still don't have an excellent Troops choice.

The second Troops choice that Typhus offers us is the conversion of your Cultists to Plague Zombies. Essentially, as you'd expect, a cross between Plague Marines and Cultists. This gives your Cultists Feel No Pain, Fearless, Slow and Purposeful and reduces them to only having 1 close combat weapon.

Yes they may not churn out much damage but when you have over 200 of them on the board then you're going to be causing some damage. Unfortunately they do not stack with Epidemius, as they don't have Mark of Nurgle, however, they are so cheap that you can afford to sling in some toys such as some backline shooty units such as Obliterators or Havocs, or maybe a Heldrake. I probably wouldn't use Spawn in conjunction with Zombies as a) their movement will be severely restricted by all of the Zombies in the way and b) all of your Zombies are excellent tarpits anyway. Zombies are a great Troops choice, as they're cheap and extremely durable, with Fearless being the kicker there.

That said, the best use for them is probably with other squads of Zombies, as a single squad on its own doesn't make much sense to me. Sure they may be good for holding backfield objectives but you're not making full use of Typhus, plus if you're taking Zombies they're your best Troops choice anyway so why would you take any other.

The main thing that I've learnt from playing against Typhus is not to put him in the middle of a squad when there's a Manticore around (lots of hits, you're going to fail some look out sirs and if you fail a save the Manticore has made its points back and then some). But this is internet punditry! There is no room for experience here!

Typhus is a close combat machine, granted his Warlord Trait is a little underwhelming and he'll have to eat your sergeant more often than not before doing any real damage whilst hoping not to turn into a Spawn or Daemon Prince in the process, but once he gets to the meat of your squad he will smash through it.

Starting small, he has Vets of the Long War, Hatred marines, although this doesn't matter too much given the context it's always nice. He has a pretty monstrous statline, T5 as you'd expect, hitting pretty much everything on 3s and 3 attacks. I5 and W4 were a nice surprise, although the Initiative bonus doesn't make much of a difference unless facing a guy with Jaws.

Onto his special goodness though, he is armed with what is essentially a Force Axe, with 2 notable changes. Firstly, it grants +2 strength, and secondly, it is a Daemon Weapon, granting him a boatload of extra attacks, and this is what makes him monstrous. Anything that is able to hurt him, like Power Fists and their equivalents, aren't going to be striking until he is, and that is enough as he is going to tear things up.

He also has a couple of other boons. He is a level 2 psyker, which I like for the improved Deny the Witch more than anything else as it makes him even more durable, and he has another special rule called the Destroyer Hive, which is a large blast centred on Typhus in combat causing a Bolter hit with an AP of 2 against models under it. With ignores cover just to clarify. Ouch.

So, Typhus is a close combat monster, and he unlocks an excellent Troops choice and another good Troops choice. But how to get him into combat. Well, there are a couple of options. The first is Land Raider (notice this is a recurring theme), the second, which I've seen used quite often is to slap him inside a squad of Plague Marines who walk him to the other side of the board. To be honest I might be tempted to put him in a squad of regular Chaos Marines instead, with an additional close combat weapon and Mark of Nurgle. It'll make a cheaper alternative and they'll do the job. Plus Typhus gives them Fearless anyway to stop them running off.

In conclusion, this post should be positive enough to break the recent string of negativity, for their points the conclusion is this. Plague Marines, Ok – Good. Plague Zombies, Very Good. Typhus, Good.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Chaos Marine Analysis - Thousand Sons and Ahriman

I am absolutely shattered. So much so that I am barely coherent anymore. Over the last couple of weeks I have developed a tendency, at least twice a night, to wake up, read my clock wrong and think that I'm late to lectures and quickly get dressed and get my stuff together, only to quickly read my clock again before I walk out the door and notice that it's 4:30am. Of course I'm not coherent enough to remember that this has happened before but the real kicker is that this even happens on days that I don't have lectures. So I'm going to try and get a bit more sleep tonight, and I hope that this analysis isn't awful.

Thousand Sons are up today, and I'm also going to be rambling about Ahriman, but the Thousand Sons first. They're the second most expensive of the God specific choices, but then all of their cool gear comes as base. Perhaps what they are best known for are their AP3 Bolters, which are a real plus.

They can be a little terrain dependant though, if you're playing on a board bereft of terrain, like at Warhammer World, these things are going to work a treat. But if there is quite a lot of terrain your opponent's marines can often hug cover, especially if the centre of the board is quite terrain filled. Yes they'll still take casualties but it'll take longer to chomp through them.

Thousand Sons are also more durable than standard marines, as well as coming with Fearless they also have a 4+ invuln, and they have a psyker in the unit, so an improved deny the witch also makes them more resistant to psychic powers. Plus, their Champion has a Force Weapon. They also come with Veterans of the Long War as standard. However, they also have slow and purposeful.

Rattling through the upgrade. Gift of Mutation. No. Most of the powers are close combat oriented and although not terrible in a fight due to that 4++ and Force Weapon you're going to get more use out of them shooting. Plus there's no guarantee that the gift will be useful to you. I also wouldn't take Melta Bombs, as you're probably not going to use them.

Icon of Flame is also an option, but what you don't kill with your shots you're probably not going to kill with the potential for more normal bolter hits.

So, does this unit make a better troops choice than what is already in the Codex. Well, comparing them to a standard Chaos Marine, yes they're more durable, and yes their shooting is more scary, but the reason for that is that they cost 10pts more.

They could be considered as situational, as their shooting is only more effective against MEQs, but there are so many of them about that I'm not sure it is situational.

So, do they score better than standard Chaos Marines. Well each model is more durable, but then you'll be pumping a lot of points into a scoring unit, points which aren't going into anything whose purpose is to cause some damage. Point for point I'd say that regular marines do it better.

Is it worth making an army out of Thousand Sons. I think that a Thousand Sons build would work great against Marine armies and badly against Hordes, I also think that a Thousand Sons army would work great in a board with very little terrain and badly on a board with lots of it, and most of the time there is going to be a decent amount of terrain. In short, I'd say no. Not a bad unit, but not something that's getting me really excited.

Moving on to Ahriman. He is extremely expensive for a guy in Power Armour, and he has no option to change for Terminator armour like Njal does. He is closer to 250pts than he is 200. So you'll need to take a squad to put him with just to keep him safe, you'll want to keep this squad reasonably durable but not too expensive. So what's he got going for him that makes him worth his points?

Well, he shares Huron's Warlord trait, so he can infiltrate units. But what makes Ahriman so much more expensive from Huron is his psychic awesomeness. He can use up to 3 witchfire powers a turn, and has a Mastery Level of 4. However, his choice of disciplines isn't exactly fantastic.

I don't particularly dislike Pyromancy but it's not amazing and you won't get your full use of Ahriman with it. Same with Biomancy, I really like Biomancy but on Ahriman I don't think that you're getting his full potential out of it, as you don't want to sling him forwards.

I think that Telepathy is a decent choice for him, the powers all have an ok range and using 4 a turn could be nasty. The Tzeentch powers would make him the 'swiss army psyker' so to speak, there's a power for every occasion (albeit with a limited range). The only problem with this being is that he'd only find 1 power useful per turn. I'd probably roll thrice on Telepathy, and once on the Tzeentch powers chart.

I think that Ahriman is ok, but to be honest, I'm not a fan. If you want to infiltrate something, go for Huron, you could get him and an Obliterator for the cost of Ahriman. Although nice, I'm not sure what he gains is worth that many more points, especially considering that he's losing some of the close combat power that Huron has. I think that Ahriman's ok, but I wouldn't take him.

I know that I'm being a bit negative about the units so far, so sorry about that. But I'm not going to come out and say that a unit is good just to break the pessimism if I honestly don't rate it particularly highly. I'm sure things will pick up.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Sneak Throne of Skulls Update

Yes, I'm struggling to keep up the tempo with the Chaos Marine Analysis, so I'm just going to throw something a little different in to freshen things up around here. In short, I'm changing my 1,500pt list. Again. Since a game yesterday against a strong opponent, I've learnt a few things about my army. Firstly, Lone Wolves are brutal. The game in question was at 1,850, and I was trying out a pair of Lone Wolves, so I'm going to put one of them into my 1,500pt list. So here it is.

Rune Priest (Warlord)
-Tempest's Wrath
-Living Lightning

Rune Priest
-Chooser of the Slain
-Jaws of the World Wolf
-Living Lightning


Wolf Guard Pack (3)
-Terminator Armour, Power Sword, Storm Bolter

Lone Wolf
-Thunder Hammer
-Storm Shield


Grey Hunter Pack (6)
-Wolf Standard

Grey Hunter Pack (6)
-Wolf Standard

Grey Hunter Pack (5)

Heavy Support:

Long Fang Pack (5)
-4 Missile Launchers

Long Fang Pack (5)
-4 Missile Launchers

Long Fang Pack (5)
-2 Missile Launchers
-2 Lascannons



Primaris Psyker


Veteran Squad
-Mortar Team

Fast Attack:

-Heavy Bolters

Heavy Support:

-Heavy Flamer

I'm a bit worried about the size of the troops choices but I'm hoping that with all of the other threats my troops won't make target priority, especially with there being 4 of them making it difficult for my opponent to kill them all. The Wolf Guard split up and go into each of the Grey Hunter squads to eat wounds, and the Warlord swaps his powers out for Divination, hiding at the back to avoid giving away the Slay The Warlord point and using his powers to improve a pack of Long Fangs each turn.

If the Manticore is threatened by outflankers, etc, I'll bubble wrap it with the Veterans whilst they use their Mortar, otherwise I'll put them in the Vendetta to drop them in my opponent's deployment zone for Linebreaker.

Sorry there's not much today. But there'll be a Chaos post up tomorrow on Ahriman and his Thousand Sons.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Chaos Marine Analysis - Kharn and Khorne Berzerkers

Today I'm going to be covering the 2nd least expensive of the aligned choices, in the form of Khorne Berzerkers, and Kharn. I don't really have much else to say, so I'm just going to get straight on with it.

Base, Khorne Berzerkers are very nearly 20pts, so almost 50% more expensive than a standard Chaos Marine, and the difference is that they have +1 weapon skill, Fearless, Furious Charge, and dual close combat weapons and Mark of Khorne base. So just of what they get they don't look too bad, so moving into the upgrades.

Firstly, you can take up to 20 of them, and then fire a sizeable points cost upgrade any model may take a Chainaxe. This will change 2 things. Firstly, they will look really cool, secondly, they will be AP4. Now, anything with an armour save of 4 or less is something that you're going to be taking down anyway, so if you're looking for purely gameplay strength don't take them.

2 Khorne Berzerkers can also get Plasma Pistols, for almost the cost of a whole other Berzerker, or 5 Chainaxes. Each. Backing away slowly.

The Berzerker Champion can then do all of the normal Champion things. Gift of mutation. No. Artefacts, better on a Chaos Lord, Melta Bombs. Ok, maybe.

Now, for the same as a Plasma Pistol you can get an Icon of Wrath, and if I was certain that I wanted to take Berzerkers then I would take this. What it does is let you re-roll your charge distance as though you had fleet, which is really useful as the last thing that you want is your Khorne Berzerkers to get shot at.

Finally, the Khorne Berzerkers can take Veterans of the Long War, which I would take, rounding off their points cost nicely and Hatred is always useful in combat.

However, this all sounds good but I still don't like them. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, they don't have an AP value attack, and they don't have access to a decent one. Therefore, they have to rely on weight of attacks in order to do some damage to MEQs. They have 2 attacks normally, double that on the charge. So assuming 10, 40 attacks hitting on 3s (assuming that they all survive overwatch). 27 hits. Wounding on 3s for Furious Charge. 17 wounds. 6 Dead marines, although if they are marines you're getting Hatred too I suppose. But still, that's not that impressive a tally.

Now let's think about how to make them effective. Well first you need to be able to get them into combat safely, they're only marines after all and they're likely to have a big target on their head. So you'll need to give them a transport. A Rhino won't do as it's too flimsy and you can't assault out of it. So you need to take a Land Raider, that's getting expensive.

Ok, so now you're getting into combat, but the Land Raider only has a transport capacity of 10, so you're not going to get enough attacks out to kill a whole squad, and if you do, the rest of the army will gun you down no problem. I can't take more Berzerkers to get more attacks out because then I won't fit into the Land Raider, so I'll just drop the squad down to 9 and put Kharn in there as the 10th (segwaying like a pro).

Kharn is a character that is designed to do one thing, and that is to kill stuff. His weapon skill and ballistic skill match Lucius, but he has +1 strength base, and Furious Charge. He hates everything, has a 4+ invuln and Plasma Pistol, and a strong number of attacks. However, what distinguishes him from a beatstick Lord are his other 2 rules. His first is his Axe, Gorechild. It essentially is a Power Axe, but with a few modifications. Firstly, he strikes at normal initiate, secondly, it's armourbane, and thirdly, it hits on 2s. Pretty brutal.

However, every time Kharn doesn't hit, he hits a friendly model in his unit instead, so a hefty cost for every miss. So, do you leave Kharn in the squad? The alternative is to take him out and have them charge separate targets, but then Krak Missile will instant kill him with only a 4+ save in their way. So, you leave him in the squad for fear of losing him. He is the same points cost as Huron, although he is immune to force weapons, and denies the witch on a 2+. However, I would be cautious with this, as Kharn with 9 Khorne Berzerkers in a Land Raider will set you back almost 600pts.

My honest verdict here is that it's not worth it.

So is it worth making Khorne Berzerkers troops? Well in making things troops you're either doing it because you want something to score or because you want to run an army based around a unit. Do Khorne Berzerkers score better than standard Marines? Well they're slightly more durable because of Fearless, but on a point for point basis having more Marines is probably more durable, and they can shoot. Do you want to build a competitive army around Khorne Berzerkers? No. Never mind then.

If Kharn had Eternal Warrior, I may consider taking him without the Berzerkers in a squad of Chaos Marines or something, but because GW appears to be cutting back on that kind of thing I probably wouldn't go for him. He could be ok, this is just standard internet punditry, he's still a beatstick, I'd just try to keep him out of sight of S8+.