Thursday, 22 October 2020

List review - the armoured column

So, whilst it’s been a while since my blog reset (I’ve been doing lots of hobby, especially in relation to my YouTube channel) I’m finally getting round to writing some new content!

First up, in what’s very much a return to my happy place, I thought I’d take a look at the process I’ve gone through for creating a new, thematic Adeptus Astartes army list for my Swords of Dawn. As those regular readers of my blog will no doubt know, I don’t consider myself a competitive player, but I do like to be able to compete in a game (if that makes sense). None of us like losing, and whilst I’ve shed the need to keep a record of my win/loss ratio I don’t like to feel like I don’t have the tools or the list to win a particular game.

Most of all though, I like narrative. Not just a little spin you add to a game to justify the forces involved being present – actual meaty narrative that influences and is in turn influenced by your actual miniature collection. And so to that end, I decided to write myself a thematic list for the Swords of Dawn, who are a pure Primaris Chapter of Astartes. The new codex has brought a lot to the table for the Astartes and so where better to start than writing a list to take advantage of that. Who knows if I’ll ever actually add this list to my playable armies, though I have to say it would be nice to be able to!

So, what’s the theme?

Well, the latest additions to the Primaris Armoury are very much towards the heavy end of the spectrum, in stark contrast to the stealthy, tactical Vanguard Marines we’ve seen most recently. Where better then than to go full on Mech and build myself an armoured list? And I don’t mean some lip-service attempt to bring a few vehicles along. We’re talking full-on Mad Max style here. Tanks, speeders, bikes and buggies all thundering across a ruined landscape lashing fire out at their pursuers. Anyone who falls off or gets out of the vehicles gets left behind type list!

So, where to start?

That imagery, quite frankly. A tough core of units that form the armoured column itself, and then a sprinkling of faster moving rapid-reaction ‘guardian’ style units that can shift around the board quickly to respond to threats to the main column. The central part would therefore be mostly made up of tanks, with a mix of weaponry to counter all potential threats. None of that stuff sits comfortably in the troops focused Core Detachments though, so I would definitely be giving up CP to take the more specialist options available to me. Problem is, the mobile element sits heavily in the fast attack section of the codex, and the tanks sit firmly within the heavy support slots. There’s no way to stock up on both elements without sacrificing the other or needing to take troops along as well. Ok, two detachments it is then. One Spearhead, and one Outrider (did no-one foresee the confusion that’s going to cause???)

Hmm, so I’ve spent 6CP already, and haven’t even added any units!

Well, here’s my ‘working out’ list and as you can see it’s very heavily ‘amended’ as I initially sketch out a combination of units and then refine things. But don’t worry, we’ll make things a bit clearer as we go along.

So, the first bit is the Outrider detachment because that’s really easy.

If you have a fast detachment you want a fast HQ to lead it, so I’ve gone with the Primaris Chaplain on Bike. As a Primaris-only force he’s the only option I have to lead the outrider detachment, but that’s fine cos he’s an awesome choice anyway, and I really love the imagery of his fiery rhetoric inspiring his units to defend the armour with their lives if necessary.

2 units of outriders, these will give me a nice flanking force for the armour with a decent damage output against light troops, both at range with 4 shots each from their bikes, and up close with an absolute boatload of close combat attacks. I’ll look at litanies etc later once the basics are down and the list is done, because those things should really buff how your list already works, rather than being a mechanic around which the list is built (in my opinion).

Next up, a squadron of ATV’s which fills out my minimum 3 FA units. They could also easily be taken separately in an Outrider Detachment (see? Confusing) which in game terms would *usually* be a good idea. It allows them to bring fire to bear at the right location easier, but does increase your number of ‘easy to kill’ units. I decided to hedge my bets a bit with this and take 2 of the ATV’s with Multi Meltas, and one is equipped with an Onslaught Gatling Cannon for a bit of horde control.

So, that’s the minimum requirements for the Outrider Detachment sorted, so now we move onto the Spearhead, and this is going to be much more complicated!

So, I need three Heavy Support choices to fulfill the minimum requirements of a Spearhead, and an HQ.

Initially as you can see, I had all sorts of stuff penciled in, including a Gravis Captain and some Heavy Intercessors (I was making some allowance for obsec at that point) but as I looked at refining things, I decided to take out the troops completely. That meant the choice of a Captain made no game sense (as very few units would then benefit from his rerolls) and narratively speaking without troops to command it seemed less likely that an armoured column would be led by a Captain. So out he went, and in came a techmarine as his buffs directly benefit the vehicles accompanying him. I figured given how many vehicles would be in the list it made sense to upgrade him to a Master of the Forge as well, which doesn’t grate with me from a narrative perspective either.

Initially, given I was including a squad of Gravis models, I put a Repulsor into the list, but as refining went on, that made less and less sense, especially since you pay a lot for the weapons systems it’s equipped with. So out it came, and instead the Master of the Forge gained his own personal Impulsor, which I also stuck a squad of Bladeguard into for his close protection if required (actually this came later, but it makes sense to discuss at this point).

Narratively speaking therefore the list went from being purely an armoured column reinforcing a position to potentially being an armoured escort to the Master of the Forge, which sounds equally cool I think!

Now for the 3 mandatory heavy slots. This was perhaps the easiest part once I’d taken out the Repulsor, but the hardest part with it still in the list. Taking it out meant I had the points for all three Gladiator variants, each with a single upgrade. I went for auto launchers on them all as whilst it can only affect one of them each turn, I would conceivably want to have that benefit (-1 to hit) on any one of them depending on my opponent.

That left me with 320 point to spend, and that wasn’t enough to pick up another Gladiator and something else, so instead I looked at the other new armoured arrivals, and spotted the Storm Speeders. I really like the heavier aesthetic of these (who am I kidding, new shiny marines, I like them all!) and a Hailstrike and a Hammerstrike come to exactly 320 pts. It’s like it was meant to be…

So, here’s the final list:

Outrider Detachment

Primaris Chaplain on Bike
3 Outriders
3 Outriders
2 ATV’s with Multi Melta
1 ATV with Onslaught Gatling Cannon

Spearhead Detachment

Master of the Forge
3 Bladeguard Veterans
Impulsor with Bellicatus Missile Array

Gladiator Reaper with Auto Launchers
Gladiator Valiant with Auto Launchers
Gladiator Lancer with Auto Launchers

Storm Speeder Hammerstrike
Storm Speeder Hailstrike

Next up then was to look at what other buffs I could look at giving them…

Having spent 6cp just on getting access to the two detachments it seemed churlish not to buff stuff properly, so I had a look at what relics might be useful first. 

There are two characters in the list, first is the Techmarine and second is the Chaplain.

The Chaplain is easy, because there's only one relic specific to them in the marine codex, and whilst there are some alternative relics he could take that would buff other aspects of his abilities, the one that stands out is the benediction of fury. It's just as good as it ever was, and combined with a litany it can be really brutal. As the Chapter Specific litanies have now gone (I think?) from Faith and Fury, I've swapped out the standard Raven Guard litany my Chaplain takes for the Mantra of Strength, which in combination with the Benediction of Fury will get him up to Strength 7 and therefore he'll present a valid threat to any vehicles his speed can let him charge.

As for the techmarine, I find myself in an interesting quandary. The Master of the Forge Warlord Trait only affects dreadnoughts, and with none in the list there's very little point me taking it. Similarly with the relic, if I'm relying on my Master of the Forge to be fighting then things aren't going well! But from a narrative perspective, I can't resolve the idea that the Master of the Forge would be commanded by a Chaplain. Perhaps he would relinquish battlefield control to a line officer (Such as a Captain or Lieutenant) but the Chaplain isn't such an Officer, so Rank would hold sway (in my head narrative at least). And that means the Master of the Forge needs to take a Warlord Trait!

With the significant lack of Core Units in the list, only the Bladeguard really stand to benefit from it and so I find myself with a narrative choice to make - do I take the Raven Guard Trait and essentially let him shadow walk once per game, or do I take Iron Resolve to make him more durable. In the end, the technological explanation for an extra wound and a feel no pain won me over, rather than trying to explain how this half-machine half-man with servo arms and all kinds of other appendages is able to slip into the shadows and disappear at will.

Part of me still wants to take the relic too, but having paid 6CP for my detachments and a further 1 for hero of the chapter to let my Chaplain take a Warlord Trait as well, I really don't think I'd want to start the game on only 4CP!

Finally therefore, I need to look at Chapter Tactics. Now whilst I would narratively stick to my 'normal' Chapter Tactics wherever possible, I also think that it's churlish to stnad by those if they don't make sense narratively speaking for your list. 

In this case, a bonus to advancing and charging and hitting in melee really doesn't reflect at all how this force might operate. Given that it's led by a Master of the Forge, is makes narrative sense to me that the vehicles protecting him would be amongst the exemplars of the Chapter Armoury, and so Scions of the Forge seems appropriate. Similarly, with the Chaplain around the faith in the Emperor of the crews manning the vehicles would be strong, even more so than normal, and as the Emperor Protects, I figure that Warded also makes sense (plus it gives me a bit of defence against smite spam, which would otherwise really hurt this list). 

So there you have it, an armoured column list. 
It's almost certainly not competitive, but it does look like fun to play to me, what do you think?

If you'd like me to have a look at building an army list to another theme, let me know what that theme might be in the comments!

Don't forget to check out my YouTube Channel, here, and I'll see you again at the Battle's Red Edge.

For Corax, For the Emperor, and the Red Dawn!
Triple D

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