Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stop... Hammer Time

After my recent switch to Windows 7, I had to back up many of my old files. One of these files was my 40k lists folder; in other words the "where my free time goes" folder. I almost never look back at these old lists as I have a tendency to be a little A.D.D. with my armies. But one thing I noticed after looking over some of these lists was that I always, without fail try to have a good killy death squad (or Hammer unit).

A quick description of a hammer unit is basically a unit that has one job, hit the enemy as hard as possible. The unit will almost always be played in a manner similar to annihilation and will most times be found hitting the enemy hard to weaken their lines. This is always a valuable asset to have as it weakens the opponents line against your important scoring units which often times have a hard time surviving when under fire. I use hammers quite effectively in controlling the game by devastating a valuable enemy unit, and most times it draws a lot of fire.

I know I have some major ill-will towards the Codex: Space Marines, but I have to tip my Iron Halo to the Assault Terminators. The TH/SS terminators are unparalleled in damage output and survivability. Most times a hammer unit will hit, then fall to pieces in the following phase or two; but these guys keep on truckin' through just about anything the enemy can through at them. But they still have their one weakness, which is where the true topic of this post comes in.

The assault terminators, even with a 3+ invulnerable save have one glaring weakness, and that is surplus of wounds. Yes, a few lascannons will be easily shrugged off, but 20 or so lasguns wounds will still often destroy the squad which usually only number 5 + IC's. Since the cost per model is pretty salty, units like this are often small, and a single death can really cause some damage to the it's ability to continue killing. This is the weakness that I have felt come in to play against my Assault Terminators many a time... So I have been looking around at alternatives.

With 3k points in my Crimson Fists army, I have turned to an alternative codex that has always been a favorite of mine, but I never truly started; but now I have a reason to. And so, I shall embark on a journey to master the Black Templars codex. What can I say, I'm a sucker for the Dorn gene-seed.

After building what seemed to be a standard list, incorporating the same old uber lightning claw termies that most templar armies seem to have, I came across a gem of a unit. The Command Squad unit in the HQ section can be kitted out, for what seems to me at least, a fair price tag (both monetarily and points) It costs about 1.5 to 2 times the points as a normal crusader squad, but will hands down perform much better than two normal crusader squads could hope to. The only real down side is they are hard to keep alive without an invulnerable, so they will defiantly be taking some heavy fire. However, with a 9 man unit, + an IC (I chose a counts as Helbrecht which allows me some Neophytes too) the unit has some absurd abilities thanks to their upgraded units (Sergeant, Standard bearer, Company Champion, etc.) I look at this unit as being the nob squad of the Marines. And with the over abundance of cover in 5th, the unit should have no trouble keeping their heads down when the big shots start flyin'.

This unit is easily considered a hammer unit, and for it's points will do very well. Yes, it still has a weakness of AP3 fire, but in the end, AP3 in mass is harder to find than a lot of crap shots from bolters, lasguns, fleshborers, sluggas, pulse riffles, gauss flayers, etc... In my opinion, I think a unit like this isn't given enough credit for what it can do. Yes, now many of their attacks are not power wounds, but the same principle of causing armor saves in mass applies here (I5 S5 attacks in mass will do that, especially with proffered enemy :D)

So I will open this up to you the readers. Do you take a Hammer Unit? If so, what kind is it? Does it have small numbers with awesome stats/attacks, or large numbers with mixed attacks? Also, what are your thoughts on the Hammer mentality? I like having a unit my enemy fears, but some feel it is best to save the points and field mass grunts to overwhelm the enemy. I would really like to hear your thoughts on this. Cheers!

Friday, April 23, 2010


I know I haven't posted in a while and there hasn't been much activity on the blog. I wanted to let you all know that Loki, Ismael and I are still committed to bringing you the best of our thoughts on 40k, we just have a lot of work coming down on us as the spring term comes to a close at our university. We'll get back to posting more once our workload drops for the summer. We would really appreciate hearing from you: your thoughts, your opinions (especially if you disagree), and what you would like to hear about in the future. Until then, have fun, roll well and enjoy life.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What has the Codex Astartes Become?

So as a Marine player from the old fashion standard Marine codex... I have to put forth a question to the players out there... What makes standard marines worth playing anymore? From the looks of things there are not many reasons to play the run of the mills anymore. I have taken a look (in depth) at the 5th Edition book for regular old Marines... and thus far I am very unimpressed.

Early Phases

When the codex first came out with the release of 5th Edition, it was the shining pinnacle of power. Players of all armies wanted to see how powerful the codex was, and I remember Ishamael and Heretic wanting to see it constantly when I first got it. It was in fact a very impressive codex, especially since it was the only one at the time. No other codex could match the "new toys" in which the marines were getting. This was also the first time Marines received a way to customize the feel of their list by running Characters to provide minor differences across the army (Pedro's Hold the Line, Hestan's TL-meltas, etc.) So yes, even I was impressed early on with this codex


Now that we have had many codex releases after that of the Codex Marines, we can see massive differences across the board. As a marine player, I find myself wondering why I still play the Codex anymore as it is so boring, it makes this game feel dull. Looking at just the new Marine codex's (Wolves and Angels) there is a colossal difference. Look at the Tactical squad. It has very limited mobility unless given a rhino, which limits the squad's fire power dramatically, and with 5th's KP system is almost more dangerous to take in some regards. It lacks 2 attacks in close combat. Now wait a second. You mean to tell me that for 4 editions prior I have always had a close combat weapon providing me with 2 attacks base, and suddenly the Imperium is skimping out and taking them away?! SO effectively this alone has decreased the squads ability to be truly well rounded as both ranged and CC fighters.

Secondly, lets look at the characters. Yes they are indeed powerful, and they can add some bit of changes to consider. But many players dislike the idea of running named characters. This codex only really offers sub par marines with characters to increase there army's power slightly. But even with the addition of these characters, the army still doesn't seem to match to brute power of either of it's counterpart 5th codex's. For instance, Wolves have the USR Counter-Attack... awesome. The Angels have Decent of Angels... sweet. The regular marines have... nothing. So we have to take characters to get some sort of bonus like that, which is easily answered by them taking a character of there own and outdoing us again.

This is a personal gripe here... but I am not pleased with the Captain and Chapter Master stat lines being the exact same thing. This was clearly done to make all of the SM characters alike and to me is ridiculous.

In the end, I know my marine army can do fine in battle. I have won many a times with them, and as such I don't want to complain that they can't win. I only wonder why after so long the codex has become so weak in comparison. We have yet to receive any new units (minus characters) that haven't already existed. Yes the Thunderfire Cannon is neat... but it's a toy at best. The rest of the army received a few new variants, but nothing really new. I would love to see a new tank, or a new troop unit (especially if the Tactical Marines continue their downward slope. Give me something that only the vanilla marines can have and I will be at least pleased. At this point, it feels like I'm playing an army that is limited to "the core without the cool extras" than an actual legitimate army.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Criteria of a Deep Thought.

Everyone knows Bell of Lost Souls. As a website, it is quite possibly the most public, active, and well-known combination of people that enjoy miniature wargaming, and it updates every single day. That's a bitch. It could very well be considered the "face" of 40k online. In this segment, I want to comment on their headlines with the title of "Deep Thought", beginning with the article this day on the Chaos Space Marines codex.

As stated in the title, what should be the criteria of these Deep Thought articles? This CSM one is but one example, and doesn't count for much, but its lack of length does not warrant such a designation. This normative statement presupposes that for a "deep thought" to occur, a worthwhile analysis must occur, in which benefits and disadvantages are adequately explored to paint a more full picture of how a unit is; not just "It's good!" without due recourse to disadvantages with the unit. As such, I will give my own example of what a "Deep Thought" should include, the example of which will be my own take on the units concerned in the aforementioned article.

Basic Chaos Space Marines- Has the ubiquitous statline of a marine, and comes with a better selection of basic wargear than their equivalents in the generic Marine codex, as well as a slightly-higher leadership score. At ten models, two special weapons can be bought, or one special and one heavy. As most know, they have the options for Icons, which give a boost to a particular statistic as they dedicate themselves to a God, or to the pantheon of Chaos. In comparison to their brothers in the Marine codex, their lack of a multi-melta for their heavy weapon hurts them as a choice for Troops, and their one-higher leadership is deceptive; And They Shall Know No Rules is by far greater than this, as even if they run away they may still regroup. They can assault with some hope of success, but if they lose combat against any dedicated cqc unit, odds are they will be running away, even with the Icon of Glory. Compared to the cult troops, which already have that basic stat increase, as well as different options, purchasing any Icon is questionable.

"perhaps the most solid troops choice in the game"- Someone has not looked at that Space Wolves codex, otherwise he might have noted the Grey Hunters being a wonderful combination of CSM and Space Marine rules. For a cheap "not good, not bad" unit for your Troops, one could go with a CSM squad, yet the endurance, cqc ability, and Fearless options available by the Cults in their different specializations gives one the option to have a better unit for a specific job.

For a deep thought to occur, the unit must also be compared to the other units available for the same slot in other armies. This comparison allows one to consider which choice will be the best overall for a balanced army.

I would hope my point is clear. I could go on to give my take on the other "best" units available in the codex, of which I only agree with two (Lesser Daemons and Oblits). Think on that. I, the resident Khorne player, do not think that they are better than Plague Marines. MSU Plague Marines have the special weapons of a full CSM squad, endurance, some cqc ability, and are quite cheap. Compare the 185 for 5 Plaguies, 2 meltaguns, and an Extra Armor Rhino, to a 270 point unit of CSM to have the same stat line, transport, and special weapons, as well as that Icon.

I am a product of being a philosophy major in college, and applying it to 40k is helping me to consider the full picture of a unit. As a quick example, the article in question would not be worth the small time investment to read it, as it does not consider any opposing issues regarding the units. Struggle in reviewing is key here.

As usual, if you have any questions or requests, shoot me an email at

Post Script: Logic and Rules: Part 2 is in the works! I'll be taking a step backwards to speak on validity, invalidity, and incoherency (being over 2" away lol), and a step forwards by going over the Simplification and Inference rules of Logic. To see the use of logos with the rules, see this article on the Blood Angels. If you don't read it already, add to your normal reading list!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Stopping Null Deployment

While it is a different strategy and way of playing 40k, Fritz' Null Deployment reminds me of the way my friend Andrew plays his Tyranids, admittedly without mawlocs. While I have not had a chance to test out this strategy, I think I've got a way for most armies to defeat this new strategy.

There is an old saying that asserts no plan ever survived contact with the enemy. This is usually the case when each player has his (or her) own plan and tries to play it out to the end, for good or bad. I suggest you adapt your plan and instead of trying to do what your army wants to do, do what your opponent doesn't want you to.

Fritz likes to play with his opponent's head and this is a good example of it. This is an example where Fritz is presenting a bad choice as a good choice. The bad choice in this case is to move away from the wedge and toward the board edges. The good choice seems like a bad choice, but is better than the alternative: hit the wedge head on.

If you stay toward the middle of the board you will have to face the wedge, but this is not as large a force as the outflanking units. You will still have to deal with the deep striking units, but you will have at least one turn you will not have to worry about them. During that turn (don't bet on having two turns free with a Hive Commander and/or Lictor) focus your fire on the biggest threat to your army be it the MCs or gaunts your opponent starts on the table as his/her wedge force. The wedge is supposed to scare you to the edge where the real threat is, don't let it.

Bring all of your firepower to bear on your opponent's wedge force, you should have a good chance of weakening it or destroying it in the turn or two you have before the reinforcements show up. The wedge should only comprise forty or so percent of your opponent's army. You can fight a portion of your opponent's army with all of yours and keep a distance between you and the outflankers, who are generally looking to charge you. If you can keep from being assaulted by the outflankers, you can decide how you want to deal with them.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

-- Bene Gesserit hymn against fear