Thursday, 19 May 2011

List Design for Beginners - Part 3(a) - What Army to Choose?

After being nagged about it for a while I'm going to continue with a series I started many months ago and then for some reason completely abandoned. 

For those of you without photographic memories or who for some reason didn't follow my blog back then here is Part 1 which as tradition dictates was followed by Part 2. If you could all just ignore the reference to 'tomorrow' at the end of part 2 as well that would be lovely ;-)

Okay. I covered the different roles that are fulfilled by various types of units and their places in the Force Organisation Chart but that in itself raises the question of which Codex you should choose to start with. Many of you will already have a firm idea of which army you like based on any number of reasons from 'The models look cool' to 'I'm told this codex never loses', however it's a sad fact that certain people choose codices that are unsuitable for their perceived army concept or attempt to make armies do things for which they are not designed. I'm therefore going to go through the codices one by one and give you an idea of what army types get the best out of them. This will by its inherent nature be an 'overview' so don't get all tetchy should I skim over a build you think is awesome...

As no more suitable system springs to mind lets get all alphabetical on this thing,

Blood Angels.

Like most of the more recent codices Blood Angels can be used in a wide variety of ways. However, their special rules and unit choices push them in certain directions if you want to get the best from them.

Jumpers - No not the woolly outer garment that your mother made you wear in order to prevent colds but rather a force made entirely (or almost entirely) out of Marines with Jump Packs. Due to the 'Descent of Angels' special rule allowing you to re-roll failed reserve rolls on your Jump Pack units and also reducing your scatter to a single D6 you can produce a force that hides in reserve and then turns up pretty much simultaneously while landing exactly (or as near as damn it) wherever you like. Combine this with the Scoring nature of your Assault Squads (They're troops in case you were wondering) and you have a very mobile force. It is however by it's very nature an offensive force which wins by getting into your face as quickly as possible and then kicking the shit out of you.

Mech - Another handy thing about the Blood Angels is that all their vehicles based around a Rhino chassis (Rhino's, Razorbacks, Vindicators, etc.) are 'Fast' vehicles. This gives you more mobility than most Marine forces while still enabling you to dish out a lot of shooting. Having an additional shooty tank (the 'Baal' Predator) in the Fast Attack section allows you to field a veritable wall off Armour 13 while still leaving plenty of points for a Rhino Rush or Razorback Spam as part of your army. Due to the ability to take a Inferno Pistol or Hand Flamer on your Sergeant combined with the ability to take a special weapon even with a minimum squad size of 5, Blood Angel Razorback Spam lists are in the rare position of being able to take a Razorback Spam list that still contains a useful Troop choice inside it either with dual melta (anti-tank) or dual flamer (anti-infantry). Most of the other codices simply use the troops to make the Razorback scoring (for as long as they're in it, obviously) but they tend to be pretty useless once they're de-meched.

Hybrid - You can of course do a mixture of the above two options, but in my opinion if your a beginner then its best to pick a theme and go with it.

The Others - You can take Sanguinary Guard as Troops if you also take Dante as your HQ and can field an army of Death Company if you take Astorath the Grim. Neither of those are 'Beginner' armies as they require particular strategies to get the best of. The Dante + Sanguinary Guard army in particular can cause problems for even an experienced player to get the best of.

Chaos Daemons.

I start this section with a warning...The Chaos Daemon Codex has some serious issues...Not put off?

Here goes then,

Your whole army deep strikes in but unlike every other codex with a 'Drop' build has absolutely no way to increase its reliability in the first stages and then has to pay a premium of 25 points per Icon to increase that reliability in subsequent turns. Combine this with the fact that you start off with only half an army and that 33% of the time you end up with the opposite half and you can see why I said the army had serious issues.Builds that work well are in extremely short supply but the two most common are,

Cavalry - Take units that are Beasts or Cavalry in every slot in which they are available and hope that enough survives your opponents first shooting phase to still be an assault threat later.

'Bolt Spam' - Take the 'Bolt of Tzeentch' Daemonic Gift in every slot you can in order to pop vehicles and fill the rest with the above mentioned cavalry units.

The Others - You can take Fateweaver (who gives rerolls to your Daemons invulnerable saves within a certain radius) and hope nobody gets through his bodyguards (they will, though) or take a pure Nurgle force with Epidemius (who gradually improves the Nurgle units as the body-count rises) but unfortunately the 'count' only increases if he's on the table and that 33% chance of the wrong half (without him in it) showing up will majorly screw you over. As with other character reliant armies these both have major weaknesses and I wouldn't recommend them as a 'starter' army.

Daemons are not a user friendly army in any way, shape or form and it would be remiss of me to recommend them to a beginner. I have however listed the options anyway as people sometimes ignore my advice no matter how sage it may seem to the more sensible among you ;-)

Chaos Space Marines.

A cool idea that's ruined by poor codex design. Virtually everything in the codex is over-pointed and can be outperformed by similar units in other codices. That is not to say that a Chaos army cannot be successful but rather that it is a far less forgiving Marine Codex than any of the others. Before the Chaos players get too depressed lets look at a few builds that at least have a moderate chance of success.

Chaos MC - It's possible to cram a pair of Daemon Princes, a Greater Daemon, three Dreadnoughts and three Defilers (basically big Dreadnoughts with a Battlecannon) into a list and pretend like your a 4th edition Nidzilla list...It looks scarier than it actually is but can be made viable with good deployment and a bit of skill.

Rhino Rush - If you have enough Multiple Small Units (MSU) moving forward with a good mix of Meltas and Flamers in those units then at least some of them might survive long enough to get stuck into the enemy. If you like Rhino's and don't mind having 20 Kill Points in a list then this might be worth considering.

Dual Lash - Daemon Princes or Sorcerors with Lash of Submission combined with Obliterators is a tried and tested Chaos Space Marine variant. It is somewhat less effective with the trend for mechanisation that 5th edition favours but it certainly is an option to consider if you like the idea of moving your enemy infantry into clumps and then dropping Plasma Cannon Blasts on them ;-)

The Chaos Marine codex is another of the ones that suffers from overall bad design. if you like the imagery of Chaos then few people would condemn you for picking a different codex altogether and attempting to crowbar some Chaos models into it in the form of 'Counts-As' units.

I think those three will do for today. Next time we'll have a look at what the Dark Eldar, Eldar and Grey Knights have to offer.

Thoughts and Comments are (as usual) most welcome.


  1. I would always advise new players to start with Marines. Whether you paint them cherry, blueberry or wintergreen their are so many codex choices you can always come up with something good.

  2. @ Lyracian - I'd be inclined to agree, but I like to give people all the options before I tell them what they should do ;-)

  3. razorspam? with only razorbacks or with baal pred?

  4. @ Snaz - Either option can work. If your going 'Assault Cannon Spam' then you obviously need the Baal predators.

    There's one half way down the following blog post if your interested,

  5. So, what exactly does GW have against Chaos? I mean, since both of the factions that are specifically Chaotic have serious problems in terms of balance, it's hard not to see something going on there.


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