Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Picking to a theme

Hi all, here's today's post on the topic of picking a new army and list with a theme in mind.


Now I'm not a dedicated list builder, there are hobbyists out there for whom writing the perfect list is just as, if not more, enjoyable than painting or playing the game itself. What I am is someone who likes an army to have a theme. Now that theme for me always includes visual aspects, but means so much more than just a colour scheme. I'll use my own collections as examples if what I mean here.

1. Limit the list
My dark eldar army is the perfect example of what I mean here, and that is to ignore certain elements of the codex.

For the Kabal of the Burning Eye that meant no coven units (scourges are included, which I know some see as coven, but I see them more as altered Kabal elements if not an entirely separate part like mandrakes). Now the reason for this in my case is that I'm not a big fan of the models (talos excepted), but it could be anything. I justified it background-wise  by setting out that the Cult and Kabal leaders operated in a sibling partnership based on supply and demand of arena slaves. This clearly made it much simpler to pick an army given the variety of units on offer in the dark eldar codex, even if it meant leaving out some of the more useful combinations. Crucially however, each of the three parts of the dark eldar codex has access to methods of dealing with the various opponents they are likely to face so I wasn't really limiting myself in terms of ways of dealing with certain troop types. The only thing missing is any weapons with the ignores cover rule, but there's a shortage of this in the codex as a whole anyway, which I believe is damaging to dark eldar at the moment.

2. Limit the fighting style
Now this one is tricky, because by committing yourself to a certain style of play you can be playing into the hands of an army that does that thing better than you. A typical example here would be to fill a marine list full of combat units and then expecting them to hold their own against orks or tyranids.

Bearing that in mind however, if you think of those 'combat' armies, even they don't go into battle completely without fire support, so balance needs to be kept even with a strong theme. Likewise if you go all out for firepower you could struggle if your opponent gets one or two units into combat. You therefore still need to maintain some presence in the area of the list opposite your fighting style.

Here I'm going to use my Bloodstone Knights list as an example, it's based on the blood angels codex, so heavily focused on chopping things up close, but it's supported by vindicators, sternguard, land speeders, a storm raven and a land raider. The idea being that those firepower units provide a serious hit to weaken the enemy enough for the assault to get through.

3. Just pick what you like.
This is the trickiest list to make viable, since the current ruleset focuses very much on using troops to win the game, and troops units are rarely interesting enough to sit well in this category. 

My viper guard were very much in this category, and their first game in 6th edition saw them lose all but one model against Adepta Sororitas. It can work, but you have to use those cool elite units to protect your troops from the enemy.

4. Synergy.
It's a topic I've banged on about on here several times, and is all about picking units that work well together. My Necron list is chosen with this subjct in mind, incorporating units that boost the efficiency of others in my list and utilising fast but tough options to act as roadblocks protecting the models that will be doing the majority of the work.

5. Finally, what I like to call the extreme theme, and something I've been working on with a view to testing it out on the table top, and that's focusing on one very tight area of the codex to pick your list. It really combines several elements of the previous styles, but can give you very unusual results that your opponent really won't be ready for.

An example would be an all scout marine list, bringing the sort of numbers of models no one expects from a space marine codex, or using terminators almost exclusively, or concentrating on taking models with a 2+ save. All these options are viable, but you need to bear in mind if you do that that you have to be able to deal with whatever your opponent throws your way.

So here are a couple of examples I've put together over the last few days, using the marine codex as a base:

Assault list
HQ  
Chapter Master with burning blade and armour indomitus, Honour guard squad
Troops
15 man crusader squad with 2 power weapons, and chainswords
10 strong crusader squad
10 man scout squad, sergeant power weapon
5 man scout squad
Fast Attack
10 man assault squad, sergeant with power fist, 2 flamers
10 man assault squad, veteran sergeant with power weapon 
Heavy Support
5 man devastator squad, 4 missile launchers
Fortifications
Bastion with lascannon

Scout list
HQ
Captain, combi weapon and storm shield
Troops
10 man scout squad, with camo cloaks and missile launcher with flakk missiles, land speeder storm with multi melta
10 man scout squad with sniper rifles and camo cloaks
10 man scout squad with sniper rifles and camo cloaks
10 man scout squad with camo cloaks, heavy bolter with hellfire shells, land speeder storm with heavy flamer
5 man scout squad with shotguns, melta bombs for sergeant, land speeder storm with multi melta
5 man scout squad with bolt pistols and combat blades, plasma pistol melta bombs and power sword for sergeant, land speeder storm with assault cannon
Fast Attack
4 man scout bike squad, 3 astartes grenade launchers
Fortifications
Imperial Strongpoint - 2 aegis defence lines with quad guns & bastion with lascannon

Both lists contain elements to deal with every kind of enemy, and whilst there is a clear preference for fighting style to each, they both have elements of longer range firepower and close range combat capable units.