Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Critique Corner I: The First Sons of Dorn

Salutations everyone, and welcome to the first in a line of list reviews.  Recently I received an email requesting my thoughts on a list.  After a quick discussion, we agreed it might be fun to do this as an article so that others could chime in with their thoughts on the list as well.

Obviously, there is no way for me to be able to guarantee anything, since often times a play area, personal preference, or plain old bad dice can make or break a list.  But I'll do my best to offer my outlook and suggestions for the lists I receive on a macro and micro scale, so that you can get my insights as I look into the overall balance of a list, and at each unit in it.

Today's list comes from Douglas Wade.  He is running a 1,500 point list out of Codex: Space Marines, using Imperial Fists for his Chapter Tactics.

The List
Primary Detachment
Captain (135)
      Artificer Armor
      Storm Shield

Command Squad (225pts) (210)
      Veterans (4)
          Company Standard
          4x Plasma Gun
Rhino (35pts)

Dreadnought (120pts)
    Twin Linked Autocannon
    Twin-Linked Autocannon

Sternguard Veteran Squad (150pts)
    Veteran Sergeant (1)
        Boltgun, Chainsword
    Veterans (4)
        3x Combi-Melta

Drop Pod (35pts)

Tactical Squad (160pts) 
    Space Marine Sergeant (1)
        Bolter, Chainsword
    Space Marines (9)

        Missile Launcher
Rhino (35pts)
Tactical Squad (160pts) 
    Space Marine Sergeant (1)
        Bolter, Chainsword
    Space Marines (9)

        Missile Launcher
Razorback (55pts)
    Twin-Linked Heavy Bolter   

Fast Attack
Stormtalon Gunship (125pts)
    Skyhammer Missile Launcher 
    Twin-Linked Assault Cannon

Heavy Support
Devastator Squad (212pts)
    Space Marine Sergeant (1)
        Bolter, Chainsword
    Space Marines (7)
        4x Missile Launcher w/ Flakk Missiles

Aegis Defense Line (85pts)
    Icarus Lascannon (35pts)

Total: 1497pts  (1517)

Okay, so the first thing I noticed was a couple of math issues.  First off, you had over cost yourself on the Command Squad, which I corrected with the appropriate amount next to the entry in (red).  Normally this would be good news, but the total was incorrect.  It was 20 points under, putting you slightly over your total by 17 points.  This isn't too big of an issue, as you have some excess in a few areas where you can trim down from.  My personal recommendation would be to drop the extra bodies from the Devastators if you are looking to maintain the wargear you have on the units.  You'll need to drop two of the three extra you added, which will leave you at 1489.  This gives you 11 points to play with, so a 10 point upgrade somewhere could be thrown in.  My thought would be a 4th combi-weapon on the Sternguard, wrapping the 4 standard veterans up nicely, but it may not really be needed.  I also offer an idea later when I look into the Devastator unit, so keep an eye on that.  In any case there are a couple things you could do, but I'll leave that choice to you.  I'll proceed with the review looking at the list I have.

Macro Scale Review
The Imperial Fists Chapter Tactic will be nice to help your Tactical Squads hit a little more with their bolters, and really helps those Devastators out when hunting enemy mech.  Good list for the tactic.  Do remember as nice as it would be, that it does not help the Sternguard.  Meta game balance said no to that one. :P

The list is very solid.  It provides you with a good number of threats on the board, a high volume of shots to throw out at infantry, and some good mid tier shots to hunt light mech and most anything on foot.  The Aegis line works well to provide your units holding back with some cover, and keeps your rear guard protected while you send a mixture of rhino rush and drop pod units forward.

I'm going to guess the Aegis Line's Icarus Lascannon will be manned by one of the extra Devastator bodies, giving you a heck of a lot of shots to throw into the enemy, and your sergeant can help them to hit with his signum, making the controller of the Icarus BS 5.  If you dropped out all three of the addition members of the Devastator's, you could turn that Icarus into a quad gun, which may fit better with your Flakk missiles when hunting fliers, but otherwise the Icarus serves decently, and saves you some points.  If you have them and a Tactical Combat Squad sitting back behind the wall, it's a decent point for you to hold an objective on, especially with a Rifleman Dreadnought behind it to add in some extra shots.

I like that your Captain does have a few good options of where he could be deployed, which is good for you.  Either riding along with the Command Squad or dropping in with the Sternguard.  Both are solid options, given that he has a combi-weapon to add some extra firepower to either unit.

The command squad offers a solid hitting unit, and provides an excellent platform with which to load up plasma guns on, given the Feel No Pain they gain from the Apothecary.  Solid unit, go ahead and keep that.  I would like to offer a quick suggestion though.  Currently they have a Rhino, and one of your tactical Squads has a Razorback.  I'd suggest you switch those two around.  The Razorback can give the Command Squad a good bit of extra shots from the heavy bolter, and still has a space for the Captain to join if he wishes.  It also doesn't lock one of your Tactical Squads into splitting up.  This swap just provides more options for you and allows you some more versatility depending on what your enemy brings to the table.

Now here are some thoughts on the "larger picture" scale.

First things first, there are a small number of scoring units on the table.  This is helped immensely by the fact that you can split your troops and have 4 units, but it will weaken them.  I'd make an argument to try to get in another unit.  Personally I'd argue to drop the Dreadnought (which makes me sad because it is so iconic and looks very cool) for a squad of Sniper Scouts.  The reason I offer this is that it gives you a good long ranged unit to hold back with and hold a point in ruins or even behind the wall (which would free up more of the Tactical Marines you would then have to do other things).  The other reason is that between your Devastators and the Stormtalon, you have a huge surplus of mid tier shooting already, and really don't need too much more.  The scouts also offer you some nice ways of dealing with Monstrous Creatures or other high-toughness targets, and has a (slim albeit) chance to pin their targets.

Next.  You have replaces the pistols your sergeant's have with chainswords.  While this isn't that critical, I'd not suggest it.  Really there's not much reason to unless you have both a close combat weapon and a pistol to get the dual armed bonus.  If you want to keep the bolter (which is a good strategy in it's own right), then keep the pistol with it anyways.  The only thing you do is limit yourself to not having a pistol shot here and there if you want to assault the enemy.  It's not a big deal, but it's just something I thought I'd make a note on.

Your list has got very few good ways to deal with heavy mech.  AV 14 is going to be very annoying for you if your Sternguard miss, or die before they get to do anything (Interceptor can really hurt).  You do however have the Icarus, which could help shore that up.  If it isn't a problem in your area, don't worry about it too much.  Just thought it fair to point of that it may come up, and if it does, protect your Sternguard and the Icarus as much as you can.

Micro Scale Reviews

Your Captain's build is alright, but lacks some punch.  Remember his weapon is only a chainsword, so he's not gonna do much damage in close quarters.  If you're just looking to add him in to fill the required roll of being an HQ, I'd maybe consider a Chaplain or Librarian.  But even so, he'll be hard to remove with a 2+/3++.  If you can find some points to throw a power weapon on him, that might make him a little more felt in terms of presence on the table.

The Command Squad is looking good.  I'd still suggest to swap their Rhino and the Razorback around, but otherwise, it's a good solid unit to scare off heavy infantry and light mech with.  Putting the Captain up front and his 2+/3++ with Feel No Pain should help to make him a great shield for them.

The Dreadnought will offer some nice mobile mid tier shots, and present a little more mech to give your list some solid mixture of both infantry and mech units.  If you do choose to look for points to make room for another troop unit, I still think this is the best way to cut back on that.  It's firepower is great, but redundant with the rest of the list.  Not a bad thing, just something to note.

The Sternguard will do what they do best.  They'll kill something dead, then probably die pretty quick themselves.  Never worry too much about it, but if you can keep them alive, do it.  Their special issue ammo will make them scary even if they are only 5 man strong.  Again, putting the Captain up front could be a great way to soak up a lot of enemy fire from them much like the command squad.

Your Troops are good solid rounders and if they combat squad you'll be able to cover quite a bit of ground easily.  I still think you could stand to have one more troop unit (preferably scouts just to have some options at your disposal, and they're cheap).  If you're a bigger fan of the Tactical Squads it might take take some work to get 10, but you could fit a 5 man unit in easily, and give you a few more scoring boots on the ground.

The Stormtalon will be a solid hunter of both fliers and ground infantry/light mech.  It'll throw out an impressive number of shots, and I feel it's a good fit for your army.  Gives you some back up if the Icarus fails to down the enemy fliers.

The Devastators should do well.  I can't say I'm keen on spending 100 points on missile launchers when you could be snagging Lascannons for 20 points less, but they will have a little more trouble hitting air units.  Given the Icarus, I'd suggest swapping out the Flakk Missile Launchers for Lascannons.  You gain AP2 with the Tank Hunters, making that re-roll much more worth it, and given that re-roll you should land 1 hit, and a slim chance at a second when snap firing at fliers, on top of the Icarus shot at normal BS 4 (or BS 5 with the signum).  It makes the unit a little more cohesive if you add a Lascannon to other Lascannons.  Just my though on that one, but I should note that swapping out will actually put you under 1,500 points (since remember you are currently over).  Swapping for the Lascannons should get you to 1,497.  You'll lose some versatility in terms of losing the blast frag missiles, but the unit really wants to hit tanks given their re-rolls when doing so.  The swap would also allow you to keep the extra bodies in the unit, which is always a plus.

The Aegis Line is pretty much always solid.  I'd say either look to keep your Devastators kitted the way they are, and find points for the Quad gun, or switch out the missiles for Lascannons and shoop-da-whoop some ass with 5 Tank Hunting Lascannons.  This swap would also help to shore up your defense against High AV vehicles and high toughness Monstrous Creatures.

So there you have it.  I hope this has been helpful to you Douglas, as well as anyone else who may have glanced through.  I'd be happy to offer list critiques like this to anyone who is interested.  Just email them to Rites of Battle, and I'll see about getting the next Critique Corner up.



  1. If I may throw in some thoughts:

    -I like the las switch on the dev sqd while manning the icarus.
    -I would drop the vet sqd. Pod vets are for a guareented first blood first, and as a nonignorable pressure unit second. 5 rapid fire special bolters arent going to wipe any unit, though. And only 3 melta are a poor bet at ensuring popping a vehicle. And as only 5 bodies podded deep into the enemy line, they stand a good chance of giving up first blood. Normally, I would say max that unit out, but as imperial fists, they aren't as efficient as they could be.
    -The missiles on the tac squads aren't a great choice since you usually want their ride to move and manuever, but that means a) you can only snap heavy weapons, and b) you cannot snap blast weapons. So you end up either wasting the pts on the transport or the weapon. Plus, as an IF player, you lose out on your tank hunter bonus since it isnt on a dev team (plus the non-negligible loss of your bolter drill for that body). Keep your tac sqds basic with a single special weapon and maybe a combi on the sgt, or if you do go with a heavy, go heavy bolter to gain the bonus of your IF bolter drill (which helps reduce your penalty from snap firing).
    -I agree the capt needs a better cc weapon. A power wpn will go a long way to help secure a melee in your favor against anything not built to murder face in cc.
    -It would take a bit of additional refiguring, but I would start from the ground up as an IF player by starting with 3 tac sqds and 2 dev sqds. Tacs in rhinos with flamers and hvy bolters will put down some strong anti-infantry firepower with bolter drill. The devs with las and your icarus will put out some good tank hunting anti armor (with respectable aa for 1500 pt games). After that, fit in the other units you prefer most of the cmd sqd, 'naught, and stormtalon.

  2. Captain: Is he riding with the command squad or the vets? Why not a MotF for this role other than for the 3++? Combi-weapon and SS just feels odd. Otherwise, a librarian works well here too if he's in the drop pod. He'll bail out the melta bomb against infantry heavy lists.

    Command squad: Solid, but I'd give them the razorback instead of the tactical squads. Frees up a lot more flex than forcing a combat squad does. (Godfrey also noted this.)

    Vets: Solid if you don't have a lot of wavedar running around. Definitely liking Godfrey's suggestion on giving them a 4th melta though.

    General note: Don't give your sergeants chainswords. Always take the bolt pistol. Godfrey noted this. If chainswords gave rending, or if you went pistol and sword expecting to charge, that'd be okay, but the pistol is free and lets you shoot then assault. There's little reason to keep the sword.

    I understand Godfrey (and our commentor) urging you into a third troop, really I do, but at 1500 points, if you play fast and hard, it'll work. Might work better if you changed the devs into lascannons (also already mentioned). Saves you points, Tank hunters makes lascannons do work, and unless you fear the evil turkey of darkness, you really don't need /that much/ anti-air. Also, take the quad gun with them if you can afford it.

    Our commentor is right. Plasma gun and heavy weapon or flamer and ditch it. Especially with tank hunting devs doing so much of the heavy lifting against armor.

    You could turn the dreadnought into more vets. Consider doing this at least once. That frees them up for more dakka and makes them less vulnerable to getting that precious melta interceptor'd away.

  3. I won't disagree on the captain needing some extra punch in terms of a better

    melee weapon. That said, as he's built, he works as a great shield for either the Command Squad or the Sternguard. It's a different strategy for how to use him, but it is defiantly worth something. Keeps the unit pretty safe from small arms coming from his direction. Smart placement of the model could really shore up a squad's defenses from small arms, or even none-ID causing wounds.

    Just a thought.

  4. The captain could do a pretty good job as a shield, but the increase from 4++ to 3++ won't help against most small arms fire. The storm shield could probably go for an axe or sword. The captain should be able to soak a few wound, but the most shielding he could do is in a challenge, which he needs some expectation of winning.

  5. The 3++ is mostly for having a decent shot at soaking up the AP2 from plasma. The 2+ from the artificer is what helps him against the small arms, and saves the unit he is shielding for from suffering too much from small arms. He can soak 2 failed 2+ rolls before having to pass it off to others, but basically makes the unit impervious to low volume small arms, especially if he's with the Command Squad giving him FnP.

    It's just a thought, but yeah.. I'd say there should be a power weapon on him just for the sake of having some offensive capabilities.

  6. Too many guys in dev team. Drop the stern guard if u aren't taking 10.
    Taking 10 allows a combat squad on the drop double popping vehicles or a vehicle and the rapid firing plasma (combi) into something else
    The dread is iffy he is the only walker and will draw tons of fire. Sadly I agree with the sniper scouts idea and put a guy from them on the lascannon.

    The razorback :-/ have u thought of a las/plas? That will give you the extra range anti tank you are lacking if you drop the naught.

    Beware!!! A good tau player with 2 squads of pathfinders could blow you off the board turn 1. Also I see you having an issue with a landraider.
    Landraider redeemer rolls up. Flat out turn 1...what do u do? Turn 2 it moves up double flames gets 2 squads with power of the machine spirit them the guys assault another squad. You have no anti armor 14

  7. If he swaps the Devastator's Missile Launchers for Lascannons, I'd keep at least one of the extra bodies. Remember that 4 of them already have heavy weapons, and the sergeant has to forgo shooting to use his signum. Buying the one extra play mate (at the very least) lets him fire 5 so he can use the signum, and boost it to BS 5. Just a thought on that one.