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.
Command Squad (225pts) (210)
4x Plasma Gun
Twin Linked Autocannon
Sternguard Veteran Squad (150pts)
Veteran Sergeant (1)
Drop Pod (35pts)
Tactical Squad (160pts)
Space Marine Sergeant (1)
Space Marines (9)
Tactical Squad (160pts)
Space Marine Sergeant (1)
Space Marines (9)
Twin-Linked Heavy Bolter
Stormtalon Gunship (125pts)
Skyhammer Missile Launcher
Twin-Linked Assault Cannon
Devastator Squad (212pts)
Space Marine Sergeant (1)
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 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
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 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.