Wednesday 4 November 2020

List Review - the 'All-comers'

Greetings all, after re-starting my blog last month, I have decided to embark on a big project - reviewing the Codex Adeptus Astartes - all the way through. That doesn't mean a short list of what's good and what's not, I mean looking at the whole book, what's in it and whether it's any good.

The problem there is it's a big book (in case you hadn't noticed) so it's taking rather a while, and in the meantime nothing is going live on the blog.  So instead I decided to do a second list review. this comes in two parts - the first is a brief look at a 1k list I'd written, and the second part is a more detailed breakdown of how I expended the list to 2000 points in the hopes of it becoming my new 'default' list for matched play/more competitive style games.

One of my closest 40k buddies has had a very tough year, and on top of that hasn't managed to get a single game of 40k in since lockdown. I had booked him in to teach him the ropes of 9th Edition for this evening, the last day before the UK's 2nd lockdown begins, but he's had to cancel due to other commitments. 

I had planned a 1k game as an introduction, and figured that the best way to maximise exposure to the new rules would be to try and get as many different types of units into our lists as possible (specifically my list since he'd be using almost his entire T'au collection at this point).

So I had a little play around with stuff to see what I had painted and what I could squeeze into the list for the best all-round experience and I came up with this:

Patrol Detachment:

Captain with MC Power Sword, Relic Shield. (to demonstrate the new core mechanic)

  • Swift & Deadly Warlord Trait (the new aura aspect of warlord traits)
  • The Vox Espiritum Relic (buffing auras)
10-man Intercessor Squad with bolt rifles.

3 Bladeguard Veterans (inclusion of a unit that wants to be in combat to demonstrate the new order of fighting mechanics)

Judiciar (rule of cool)

3 Outriders (rule of cool, and potentially strategic reserves)

Invader ATV with multi melta (I just think it's cool)

3 Eliminators with las fusils (rule of cool)

5 Hellblasters with Plasma Incinerators (new gets hot mechanic)

So as you can see, I've tried to get all sorts of different elements into the list, there's some combat units, some shootier stuff, a larger unit for the new morale and combat attrition mechanics, some core units and the new aura keyword on warlord traits etc.

The more I looked at the list though the more I liked it and figured it could make a good basis for an all around list. 

Now when I write all-round lists in 9th ed (making it sound like 9th has been around for years aren't I!) I tend to make them around a battalion as a default - I'm mostly a marine player so I haven't got the cheap units to use a brigade. 

So what did I add? Remembering of course this is no longer a 'friendly' type list.


Primaris Captain with MC Power Sword, Relic Shield.

  • Swift & Deadly Warlord Trait
  • The Vox Espiritum Relic 
This is my default Captain loadout anyway, for Janus Darke of Sabre Company, and it's one that I've found works pretty well. The only real drawback to the loadout is the basic sword he carries, the Burning Blade would be a better option but I find I get more value from the Vox Espiritum rather than a killier sword. The reason being, the Vox Espiritum specifically buffs auras, and the Swift and Deadly Warlord Trait is an aura. With the Vox in place, all of a sudden friendly units at least partly within (not wholly within) 9" of my Warlord can advance and still charge. I've found this to be very effective with the combat specific units for the Astartes.

Primaris Chaplain on Bike.
  • Feigned Flight Warlord Trait
  • Benediction of Fury Relic
  • Mantra of Strength Litany
Again this is pretty much a default loadout for my Sabre Company Chaplain. The Warlord Trait (which I pay a CP for) lets him fall back and still shoot/charge in the same turn, and crucially also lets him ignore terrain when he falls back. Bikes wouldn't normally be able to do that, so this trait actually lets him fall back through walls etc of buildings he would normally have to go round, and so it actually increases the mobility of the Chaplain. Mantra of Strength and the benediction of Fury should be  self-explanatory but for the newer players amongst you that combination makes the Chaplain a combat monster! 


5 Assault Intercessors
  • Sergeant with Power Fist & Plasma Pistol
These are a little indulgence in some ways, and a necessary element in others. I like my chapter to fight using the Duellists and Hungry for Battle Chapter Traits from the codex, and it'll be obvious once you read those that they play heavily into the hands of wanting to have a melee aspect to the army, directly buffing their effectiveness in melee as well as helping me get there quicker. 

One way of getting there quicker is to take transports but that comes with its own risks if you get the ride destroyed and then roll that 1 and the only model in the transport is your Captain. So these guy are mainly there to take the hit if a destroyed transport goes badly, but they're also pretty capable in combat as backup to a melee oriented character I think. Mainly for chaff hunting to stop them getting swamped - the last thing you want is your prize Captain getting drowned in attacks because he's surrounded.

Primaris units also bring enough attacks to make a power fist more worthwhile in my view - 4 for a sergeant in the turn they charge means they can do some work, and you can never have enough plasma pistols in my opinion!

10 Intercessors with Stalker Bolt Rifles & 2 Grenade Launchers

This is another slightly indulgent unit in some ways, but purposeful and necessary in others. We've seen from the previews that models with 2 wounds are going to become more prevalent in the future - it's already happened with firstborn marines, and will be happening with Heretics in the future. Personally, I also think we'll see it with several of the more elite units in other armies too, I wouldn't be surprised to see Orks and Genestealers pick up 2W for example.

Consequently I think D2 weapons are important to have in your list, and whilst the single shot can limit the effectiveness of this unit, there's a hand stratagem in the codex that allows an Intercessor unit in your army to fire twice - 20 such shots are all of a sudden a very different proposition!

The grenade launchers I modelled onto the unit when I built them, however now that they're a weapon in their own right and don't just extend the range of grenades carried by the models, they are much more worth taking (previously you could only throw/fire one grenade per unit, so taking two grenade launchers was a waste of points until one of them died). The ability to reach out and touch something with krak grenades in particular is very useful, whilst frag grenades give the unit a bit of redundancy if they come up against hordes. There's also a stratagem to allow them to count as standing still if you really need them to hit at their best.

10 Intercessors with Bolt Rifles

This is the main horde control unit in the list, and although you can't really claim to control hordes with a single 10-man unit of rapid fire guns, that stratagem to fire twice applies here as well, and 40 shots is again a much scarier proposition if you need to mow through light troops.

The Bolt Rifles have decent range as well, allowing you to stay a little further away than normal bolt guns or with those of the Infiltrators/Incursors whilst keeping a bit of armour penetration as well, especially in turns 2 & 3 when the tactical doctrine can be active. 


5 Bladeguard Veterans

The Bladeguard are quite simply my favourite of the new units to enter the Astartes codex this time around, and I was so pleased to see that they could be taken in larger units as well. Whilst I don't think I'll be using them in units of six at any point (I'm sensing a Librarian conversion coming on), five as a bodyguard to a character fits my background narrative for the Chapter quite nicely (well actually, the narrative would suggest the company would have more than 5 but that's a topic for another time) and also lets me take both the character and the Bladeguard in a 6-man transport to give them extra protection and mobility. 

In game terms, I've only been let down by their performance in combat on one occasion, and that was more my fault than theirs, as I consolidated into a unit I thought they could take attacks from, and I was wrong. Their damage output is significant, and although I don't plan on taking the Ancient, a they should still be able to make a big dent in something, especially if they stay close to the Captain for rerolls as they have the Core keyword.

I did come up with a little treat for them as well to keep their performance in combat effective over multiple turns too, which is where the next choice comes in handy.

  • The Honour Vehement
I've only used the Judiciar once, but he performed admirably well, taking 3 wounds (including a mortal) off Ghazghkull Thraka in a single combat phase (it would have been more but for a rerolled save). The ability to remove an enemy unit from being eligible to fight until all your own units have done so is hugely significant, as it also supersedes the priority for any charging units or any units with a fight first style ability. It therefore should (against any sensible general) force an opponent to think twice about even trying to charge a unit in his vicinity, as he could then heroically intervene and negate the benefit for charging. 

I then decided to have a look at relics to see if there was anything that seemed particularly suitable to his role in the army, and the one that really stood out is the Honour Vehement. It seems pretty innocent at first, essentially allowing a marine unit to benefit from +1 attack in every round of combat, not just those when they charge or were charged. Doesn't sound amazing, but when that then combines with those attacks hitting before a key enemy unit and representing potentially an extra 5 attacks (and therefore 10 damage) from the bladeguard, and another 5 attacks from the Assault Intercessors, the benefits really start to stack up.

Notwithstanding that, the flavour text for both the Judiciar himself (who is supposed to inspire his brothers to acts of greater valour) and the relic (which 'drives their battle-brothers into a relentless killing fury') both really spoke to me from a narrative perspective as suiting exactly what the Judiciar represents to the Astartes. 


3 Outriders

I've long been a proponent of a mobile army being the best army - this very blog was founded when I embarked on a Dark Eldar army project with that ethos at its core, and one of my frustrations with Primaris when they were first released was the lack of mobility within the first wave of models. 

Fast forward to now therefore and the current smorgasboard of fast moving units that we've seen previewed are making me drool with excitement at the prospect of having a truly mobile army once more - I think my next list will certainly be focused around that as a concept. 

Setting aside my frustration that the Outriders are only fieldable in units of 3, I really struggle to countenance building an army without them, and these days I like to have at least two units there to give me a mobile punch. The speed of these guys makes the Linebreaker secondary objective viable, especially since they are relatively cheap in terms of the overall army cost. I have found that they can get bogged down a bit if you're not careful with them and the targets of their charges however, so they need to be marshaled well to make a meaningful contribution to your games.

3 Outriders

Given all of the above comments, it's hardly a shock to see a second unit of the Outriders in the list is it? And with them being ably commanded by the Primaris Chaplain on Bike he should hopefully assist them in making their charges count and giving them that bit of combat punch that they can sometimes lack in later combat turns if they don't wipe out their targets in round 1.

2 Invader ATVs with Multi Meltas

So far the list has looked at having a solid firebase, a mobile flanking force and a strong combat group. What's been lacking until this point is any serious anti tank or anti elite infantry firepower. Well let's rectify that right now shall we? 

A pair of these little nippy rides will make a big difference, and their speed combined with the shots from the multi meltas mean that they will be able to take out key backfield artillery/tanks etc to make the path easier for the rest of my army. They'll also add nicely to the flanking force, with a few extra bolt rifle shots to clear screening units and more units with which to claim linebreaker if I choose to take that secondary.


5 Hellblasters with Plasma Incinerators

No matter how good it is, you can't build a balanced list with just a single anti tank option in it, and most of those within the Astartes codex sit in the Heavy Support section. It's one reason why a lot of the marine armies you see around tend to favour the shooting style over the melee focus, because often trying to take down those tanks in combat means they're either done their job already or they're carrying/protecting something that's just as capable of hurting you!

I've been very seriously toying with the idea recently of using Heavy Plasma Incinerators on my Hellblasters. The heavier option gives you the security of range, and they're now S9 and 3 damage when they overcharge, which makes a big difference to their effectiveness. It may be something I look to tweak in the future, however I would need to buy more models to do it so for now I'm going to stick with the standard model of Plasma Incinerator. Technically once you're in rapid fire range then the potential damage of the unit increases beyond the scope of the heavier gun as well, although you are of course in range to be caught by more return fire.

The beauty of the Hellblasters really lies in their versatility however, as a rapid fire weapon they're not just useful for clearing vehicles, they can also contribute nicely towards getting rid of elite infantry units as well - Plague Marines for example really don't like overcharged plasma coming their way.

3 Eradicators with Heavy Melta Rifles

If you want dedicated vehicle killers however, there's only one unit currently in the Astartes book that you should be looking at, and that's the Eradicators. Personally I'm convinced that they shouldn't get the fire twice rule, as it makes them hideously powerful for their points (although I'm not a doomsayer either - they have limited range and they're not exactly unkillable). In this particular list where I'm a little light on anti tank firepower however the heavy melta rifles (which do an additional 2 damage each over the standard version at the cost of being a heavy weapon option) will make a big difference. There's an argument for just taking the standard variant weapon so as to not get penalised for moving around, and that's something I may look at going forward (maybe stripping a few upgrades out to get an extra warrior or two) but for now I think taking the heavy option looks better to me, especially as it then means I don't feel quite so guilty about bringing them as they do have a downside.


Impulsor with Heavy Stubber, Storm Bolters & Shield Dome
Impulsor with Heavy Stubber, Storm Bolters & Shield Dome

No it's not a misprint, I am including two identical Impulsors in the list. The reason for this is twofold. 

First, the transport capacity of a pair is better than a single repulsor, which also costs more and performs a multi-role, and therefore costs more in performance if it's lost.

Second, by taking two, I can split my combat elements if I need to into different areas of the board, with them both remaining highly mobile and independent of each other. I think at this stage the split would probably be more sensible to have the Bladeguard with the Captain, and the Assault Intercessors with the Judiciar. The reason here is that the Bladeguard already make a big difference when their attacks hit - the 2 damage means they do some serious work. The Assault Intercessors however are the less likely of the two units to clear their opponents in a single turn, and so will more likely require the buff from the Judiciar to finish off their targets in later combat rounds once Shock Assault has worn off. I can still keep all the units together if I need a really significant combat response to something, but even then, having two impulsors around is great for taking multiple objectives later in the game and blocking charge routes and gun lines of sight etc. 

Narratively speaking it makes sense too becuase my Bladeguard (the Obsidian Sentinels) are supposed to have their own dedicated transport that's painted black rather than in the chapter colours, so it gives me a cool excuse to get another Impulsor and do a different paint job on it.

So there you have it - another list review, what do you think about it? Does it sound good to you, how would you like playing against it? To me, it doesn't feel too cheesy in terms of exploiting the codex, but it still feels like it 'has some teeth' as some would say. 

Please leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.

PS - I've got another battle report going up on my YouTube channel this evening - check out Astartes Crusader

Till next time,
For Corax, for the Emperor, and the Red Dawn!

Triple D

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