Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Honor the Codex: Brewing up some MSU

I figure it's high time to put my money where my mouth is. This past month, I've penned around an article a week, and with the exception of the last, both revolved around the latest and greatest marine codex, including a list review for a reader's Salamanders. That in mind, those articles are linked here and here, and I'm going to consider those almost required reading for what's coming. And what is coming? A few list drafts for MSU marines, as hinted at in past articles and the title.

So, why MSU? I've been grappling with and struggling with my marines feeling like they lack 'oomph' for some time now. I've found various degrees of success from drop pods and combat squads, but it's usually felt like no small amount of that hinged on getting lucky with a few snapped multi-melta shots, or just inequality in matchup at times. Past that, I've had a pervasive hate for the so-called 'bolter tax' I feel increasingly plagues marines in the current meta. As I play my Necrons more, I like the feeling of not having to roll a boat of dice that feel like they don't matter, either because I'm wasting that (expensive) special weapon by shooting my boltguns, or vice versa.

To this end, I've got two lists to present today. The first is a Gladius, where I'll be hoping to max out on those combat doctrines, as well as objective secured, all while cashing out on free drop pods to try to offset the obligatory assault marines and devastators. The second is likely to have a harder time finding an opponent, as it features the dreaded Skyhammer mated to a combined arms detachment. I'm expecting to likely end up being more inclined to play the Skyhammer list as I think one set of doctrine is plenty, and similarly, I think the proper application of force through said Skyhammer is more likely to mesh with my style than the 'passive aggression' of the ~13 drop pod Gladius list as it attempts to force opponents out through weight of objective secured.

Now before I tear into the lists directly, there's a few things to note. The first is that both of these lists, as indirectly stated above are built on Ultra tactics. I'll almost always regard these as the strongest tactics for the 'shock drop' army, unless you've got an event or something that allows for FW, wherein I'd make a very strong case for Star Phantoms. Getting to twin-link the whole army for a single game turn might be more back-breaking than having to split the twin link on various units across several turns, especially when mated to the ability to reroll your reserve rolls of 1. Similarly, there's going to be a certain amount of 'season to taste' here with these lists, as they feature varying degrees of personal flair and fluff in their construction, meaning I'd strongly suggest applying your own experiences to each.

The Gladius, by the time I sat down to it, is a very simple list. There's no deception. No grand strategy. There's dudes, drop pods, melta, and a little fire. Two demi-companies and 1st company task force. Each demi-company is headed by the appropriate commander, and is an assault squad with dual flamers, three tactical squads of melta and combi-melta, and a grav cannon devastator team. The first company task force is approximately identical to that from the most recent critique corner. Two teams with 4 combi-meltas and one with dual heavy flamers. Thirteen pods, dropping in seven, four, two. If this list hasn't been run at 1850, I'd suspect it will be soon. It features maximized redundancy and optimized fire output, barring the flamers on the assault squads and heavy flamers on the sternguard perhaps. The only list likely to have more raw consistency is going to be a three piece skyhammer I posted about. This list isn't for you to showcase anything other than "I bought these kits and assembled them, can I take my prize and go home?" It's likely to be effective, due to weight of 50 power armored bodies and 10 drop pods with objective secured, but it's boring to read, and likely boring to play.

Nevertheless, writing it (as well as the three hammer list) was an effective means for me to gauge where my tastes fall in relation to it, setting me up to draft my Skyhammer based list. What's going to define my thoughts or hopes for such a list? For starters, I fully intend to include a Librarius composed of Tigurius and two ML2 guys. This, to me, serves multiple functions. First, there's the ability to bring multiple psykers - fluff I like to play to. Second, it allows for me to dial the 'competition factor' up or down for the list once I sit down. The ability to flex how much I need to gun for invisibility relative to other powers, mated to combat doctrine, should allow me a staggering amount of choice and control from one match to the next. Second, I want to bring dreadnought(s). I've really come to love my dual armed dreads since I've picked up a few dreadnought drop pods, and the combination of armor saturation and (now four attack base) brutality is stellar. Finally, when it comes to hammer time proper, I shall not ignore the grav bomb, but neither shall I forget my melta-toting roots. Each of these devastator squads have a very significant and important role. Finally, there's the principal rule for this article. I will not spend more than is necessary upon my bolter tax.

To that end, the list shakes out at a captain with artificer and thunder hammer, a drop pod with honor guard (where our captain and librarius will hang out), an ironclad in a dread pod, three tactical squads with meltaguns, the aforementioned librarius of Tiggy and two ML2 librarians, and a skyhammer of two barebones five man assault squads, with one devastator squad each of grav cannons and multi-meltas. Three pods and the skyhammer first turn, with the remaining two as a chaser. Hits hard and forces multiple threats from the very get go. Anything that stays tied up by an assault squad will easily be dispatched by the power weapons of the guard, or the mighty fists of the ironclad.

For those of you with sharp wit, you'll notice this list doesn't have my usual shooting empahsis. And I'm not sure how I'll feel about that long term. I know I miss the sternguard, but they feel caught in a very awkward position as far as their power level is concerned. Their shooting feels impotent in the current meta (still just basically boltguns) and their durability isn't any higher than many other of the more elite options in the codex. All of that said, I'm fielding my Ravens in a local escalation league, so in the coming months, expect to see me brewing and musing more about my perspective on Marines as a shooting army. Here's to hoping I can live up to my title, and truly honor the codex.

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