Friday, 4 November 2016

Dusk Knights list building

Greetings all,

As the Dusk Knights are now approaching playable levels of painted units, I thought I'd post up a little about their fighting structure. And because Rory asked me in a comment if I was working towards a particular list or just painting stuff at random.

As you'll know of course from my post on the Dusk Knights background (what do you mean you've not read it - get over there now!) they were founded by a Black Templars crusade settling on a planet following a campaign there, and as such descend directly from that august chapter and indirectly from the Imperial Fists and Rogal Dorn. That gives me plenty of scope to build an initial list from either the standard marine formations, or utilise the Imperial Fists heritage to pick a sternhammer force and get re-rolls on my bolter misses. Equally, the natural environs of St Olav's Fall also allow me to justify a stealthy way of warfare when required, making use of the Raven Guard tactics if I need to. Further down the line I'll also be looking at incorporating other chapter tactics where necessary to fill functions based on list themes, but those two will suffice for now.

Now as I'm a bit of a fluff bunny at heart, a CAD just seems a little too generic for me, so I wanted to base my army more around the more thematic detachments and formations available to the space marines. As an aside, I'm a staunch supporter of both detachments and formations, as I believe that they theme a force to the background of a faction far more effectively than any other method I've ever seen used, and whilst they aren't perfect, and free upgrades aren't really appropriate for those forces (you'll never see me make use of the free razorbacks from a battle company for example) the rest of the benefits are fantastic at making armies fluffier. Necrons become very difficult to kill, Tau work better as a whole than they do individually and space marines become adept at securing objectives to name but a few.

So, let's look first at the Gladius Strike Force, and most particularly of course the battle demi-company. My intention is that this will become a basic building block for quite a few of my armies using the dusk knights, with different auxiliary formations and units slotted into the demi-company arrangement to tailor the force to different styles beyond that.

Compulsory Choices

3 Tactical Squads.
Tactical Squads really are the backbone of marine lists, and skimping on them will result in failure at some point, so ideally I'm looking to take at least two full size squads, and a smaller unit. I could certainly substitute scout squads in here, but they aren't quite as flexible as tactical units and are considerably less resilient. I gravved up one of the squads, splitting a second into a long range (Heavy Bolter) unit and a short ranged (flamer) unit. The remaining unit went into tank hunting mode with a multi melta, meltagun, combi melta and a death wish.

1 Fast Attack Choice.
Plenty of options to choose from here, but the one that immediately stood out to me was the land speeder squadron. Initially this was because a single land speeder was really cheap, but the more I looked at it, the more I realised that the land speeder squadron is not only a highly flexible unit, but is also capable of putting out serious amounts of firepower. I opted for three tornado variants (for those of you who remember the old designations based on weapon loads) which would give me a dozen assault cannon shots and a further 9 heavy bolter shots per turn. That kind of firepower is usually going to dent whatever it points at. In a gladius these speeders are also objective secured, giving me a very mobile unit for claiming objectives if necessary.

1 Heavy Support Choice.
Far more limited in options here, and seemingly a simple choice, as everyone know that centurions with grav are a nightmare to deal with. I looked into this in more depth though, wanting to be thorough, and realised that actually the only offensive benefit to centurions over a similarly equipped devastator squad is the ability to move and fire normally. Now, it's fair to say that is a very big advantage, but it's not one that is insurmountable, particularly with the new captain in Cataphractii armour making any unit he joins slow and purposeful (effectively granting the Devs relentless). Add to that the ability of the devastators to take an extra grav cannon and a combi grav, and I was sold, a Devastator Grav Squad who would be accompanied by my captain to kick out 23 grav shots on one turn of the game, and 20 for every other turn. The Captain could then use his considerable resilience to protect the guys he's with, giving them an effective 2+/3++ with re-rolling '1's on the invun. The Shield Eternal would also be quite fitting to the Black Templars legacy (admantium will) and would force opponents to wade through every wound he has rather than killing him instantly. Just to really make the unit nasty the Captain also brought an auspex with him so that I can minimise the advantage of cover from my shooting.

So there's the basic building block of my army, 1260pts, 36 infantry, a fast vehicle squad and a squad that's lethal to more heavily armoured infantry. But it's lacking a fair few elements, which would need to be provided by auxiliary formations etc.
  • Not much scope for dealing easily with hordes
  • No anti-flier capacity at all.
  • Limited mobility once deployed
  • Limited anti-vehicle shooting.
Auxiliary Choices

The basic choice therefore was to provide much greater mobility to the force. One formation stands head and shoulder above the others in this regard, as the 10th company task force allows me to take 3-5 squads of scout bikes to bulk out the army. That would give me four very mobile units able to traverse the table easily once deployed to secure objectives etc. It also has the added bonus of being able to limit my opponents mobility to an extent thanks to their cluster mines.

That adds a further 252 pts to the list, totalling 1512, and therefore giving me 338pts remaining to play with  assuming my standard list is going to be 1850pts.

I therefore needed something to tackle fliers, and the obvious choice here was a flier wing of my own. Not only would this fulfill my anti-flier needs but it could also be advantageous in making sure my drop pods arrive when I want them to. A pair of Stormhawk Interceptors should do very nicely indeed I think, kitted out to give me the maximum fire output they can, so Icarus stormcannons, Skyhammer Missile Launchers in addition to the stock Assault Cannons. Taking all that left me with 78pts left to spend. A bit of an annoyance really since that wouldn't let me do very much and certainly wasn't enough for any additional squads bar a scout squad in the task force. I had a couple of options therefore, I could strip back the melta tactical squad to cut back on points, and doing so gave me just enough to be able to afford a venerable twin lascannon/missile launcher dreadnought.

All in all that brings us to 1847pts, and has the tools to deal with just about any threat you care to think of, massed bolter fire for hordes, meltas, grav and lascannons to deal with armour, and a pair of fliers with enough guns attached to them that even an ork would be impressed with the amount of dakka.


So there you have it, a basic 'standard' 1850pt list using a gladius strike force as a basis for building the list. This will be my building block to work from, tweaking its themes and auxiliary parts as necessary to give me a variety of ways to play the army.