Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Rules for army composition • CSM as 1st example now included
Hey guys !
I am going to be starting a new project soon where I'll be working on the developments of a set of rules to grade army composition. I'll first start off with a codex that was created for 5ed and is fairly simple. My first choice is to start with orks since they fit the bill. Another possible choice might be Chaos Space Marines or Chaos Daemons as these are both simple in my mind. I know you are probably thinking Orks and CSM were both released at the tail end of 4ed but I ask that you bare with me and see where I'm going. Something interesting is I will use the effectiveness of an army list as part of the evaluation process. Certainly a Gamer should be rewarded for that aspect.
I will first start with Chaos Space Marines since it's a very basic codex in my opinion. That makes it a fairly easy task when compared to other codices such as Tyranids or Imperial Guard.
Like I said I will award a player for bringing winning combinations rather than nerf them. My composition is based on theme and being competitive. You can build a list that has both but if you simply opt out and bring an Internet meta list you won't score nearly as high as if you craft an original list. I'll talk about spam a bit later on in the article. If you follow my blog you are aware that I'm not a fan of spam.
So onto grading Chaos Space Marines for composition. Let's start with the HQ. You have some special characters, Lords, sorcerers, daemon princes and the summoned greater deamon. Note that the last choice does not fill a slot in your FOC. The Chaos Lord is rarely ever fielded as the other choices have more to offer. You are looking for a solid leader that is tough and killy. Of course the winged lash prince is by far the most popular choice probably followed by the winged Nurgle Prince with warptime. Daemon princes are good in close combat, fast when kitted with wings and also fairly resilient with T5, 5++ and 4 wounds. No one ever takes a daemon prince with Mark of Khorne, they are cheap though. The Slaanesh sorcerer with wings and lash is also another a good choice. If you forgo wings then you could take a familiar so you can cast a second spell and warptime is a great choice since you can better benefit from the sorcerer's force weapon combined with I6. Finally you have the special characters. Abbadon and Kharn are by far the two most popular and for good reason. The major drawback to Abbadon is you have to build your army around him... He'll need a landraider and support unit to be fully effective. Kharn is a steal for the points, uber Killy and works very well with a squad of Khorne Berzerkers in a rhino or landraider as his support. So those are your choices. How would you go about grading these choices for comp? To me it really depends on what you take in the rest of your list. As said Kharn is a beast but doesn't fit well with say an army composed mainly of Noise Marines and a lash prince as your second HQ. So this is the first hint towards scoring well for comp. Your HQ should reflect well upon the army he is leading. Fluff bunnies will be overjoyed to see Kharn leading an army with two or more squads of Khorne Berzerkers. You could go so far as to take a Khorne daemon prince for your second HQ to build upon your theme.
Next let's discuss troop choices and I will stick with the Khorne theme for the sake of this discussion. Obviously two squads of Berzerkers in rhinos with skull champions sporting power fists are solid choices. You might want to take a landraider for one squad (heavy support) for the protection and so that they can extend their charge arc. To be competitive in 5ed you need at least three troop choices though so how about a full squad of Chaos Space Marines with two meltaguns, the icon and a champion with a power fist. This is a solid scoring unit that is good in close combat plus you have snuck some meltas into your army, which in my opinion are a must have. So far your entire army up to this point is fully composed of Khornate units so in my book you have strong comp. The list however is lacking in any long ranged firepower but we can look elsewhere to meet that requirement for a balanced army.
Of course there are other great choices in the CSM codex when it comes to your troop choices and this is one of the strongest elements in a CSM army. Plague Marines are a de facto unit for most Chaos armies with all their buffs. To a certain degree however I'll say that lash spam has taken the originality out of building a unique army for this codex - 2x lash prince, Plague Marines with double melta in rhinos and Oblits are what makes a lash spam list work. It's a very solid approach to CSM and very well proven. For me this style list is definitely an Internet meta list so I'd rank it low on comp.
What about Noise Marines? They are awesome and with the doom siren they work very well with lash versus horde and MEQ. You rarely see Noise Marines though as you have to pay considerable points to kit them with sonic blasters, blast master and a doom siren. They are still a great choice though and are probably the most well rounded troop choice if you pay the points. Even a small squad of six all equipped with sonic blasters can move and shoot, racking up a good number of wounds. Taking such a unit and crafting your list for a Slaanesh theme would impress me.
Then there are the lesser daemons... Only good at holding objectives in my opinion, I'm not a big fan.
Now let's move on to heavy support and I'll come back to the Khorne theme again. What if you were to take a squad of Khornate Havocs with 3-4 meltaguns and a power fist riding in a rhino? Havocs have uber grit so on the charge each Havoc not armed with a melta has four attacks. That is as much as a Death Company Marine ! You've snuck in some more much needed meltas and this squad is also good in close combat. On top of all of that you have also increased your overall body count. So it is possible to actually design a list based upon Khorne that has well comped units from across the FOC. Like I said a list such as this would score high on comp by me.
Oblits are obviously everyones' favorite choice for heavy support and it's for a good reason. They are almost too good not to take and can fit into any list. They are one of the best units in this codex. Landraiders are also another great choice and you get a nice point break when fielding them. The Chaos landraider does not have all the toys as it's Imperial equivalent but it's still AV14 and has two twin linked lascannons. It's about the same cost as three Oblits, can shoot just as much if it sits still and is a transport you can assault out of when it moves. Hey I love my Oblits but there is a place for the landraider. A good friend of mine once said every MEQ list should have a landraider, it's a bit of an extreme statement but it makes a point.
So what about predators, defilers and dreads? Chaoszilla (3x dread & 3x defiler) was somewhat popular for awhile but never really panned out in my opinion. Meltas are just hell on AV12. That in and of itself though is not a good reason not to field them but obviously there are better choices. So now I'm switching from heavy support to elites. We have terminators and the possessed... Terminators give you the means to add more landraiders to your list plus it will save you those slots in your heavy support to field another squad of Oblits. Termies have access to cheap combi weapons and can deepstrike so they are good at tank hunting with combi meltas. Here is a unit a friend of mine is planning to run in his Iron Warriors themed army:
4x terminator (incl. champion): 2x combi melta & lightning claw, heavy flamer & chainfist, pair of lightning claws (champion)
They have the Mark of Tzneetch for the 4++. It's a solid unit and very fluffy for Iron Warriors. You can do stuff like this and build good armies.
What about possessed? I think they are better than given credit but their random power makes them just that - random. It can be hard to plan well when fielding this unit so I understand why they aren't so popular. They are a great shock troop with S5 and the 5++ but they take away from your troop choices. I still like them though and have seen a big squad of Possessed with the Mark of Tzneetch roll right through several packs of genestealers. Again people would rather stick with the perenial favorites rather than take a risk and be more original.
So that's my first take on comp for CSM. What might be some guidelines for scoring this codex...
• The HQ fit well within the theme of the army:
• The army features a wide mix of units that present a solid theme to match it's background:
•The units selected work well together to provide a competitive build:
•There are a variety of units from various slots rather than a spammed approach:
So you could score up to 20 points max or as low as four. The guidelines obviously need to be better fleshed out with some examples, such as those given above. It might come across as very subjective and I think that is due to the fact that I see theme and comp as strongly coupled. Like I said it's my first shot and I have tried to provide a lot of examples to help support my guidelines. Note also you score more points when fielding a wider array of units than say lash spam which only needs three parent units to play.