Oct 10, 2011

Making a list using Marshal Learoth's NOVA lessons.

Hello. I’m going to border on plagiarism and attempt the same thing that Marshal Learoth is attempting on his blog. Basically I’m going to attempt to make a list based on certain requirements/changes that he wants to see in his NOVA 2012 list (should he choose to take Black Templar, and I get he feeling that it will depend on if we get a new Codex by the summer). Here we go.

Requirement 1: Four Crusader Squads in Razorbacks aren’t as mobile as needed, didn’t have as many options as needed, and didn’t always shoot.

Basically, they never moved more than 6” per turn, and since the Crusader Squads were embarked (to stay alive) they didn’t get to shoot. Plus, with only four you don’t have a lot of options when deciding what goes where. That means that they need to change in some way. There are various options here, including making them into close combat units, putting them in Rhinos, and/or getting more of them. All of these options are available, and none really seem detrimental at this point (well, except for making them into Close Combat units, as I’m not convinced that will work without one or both of the other options chosen as well).

Requirement 2: A way to bring down Dedicated Close Combat units.

I’m still not convinced on this. He points to Game Three as an example of when a Dedicated Close Combat unit tore him apart, but a Dedicated Close Combat unit of his own would not have saved him (maybe a large squad of TH/SS Terminators, but even then he would have only bought time and still lost) given his rolling. He also mentioned that he had never had problems shooting them down before. Here the terrain hurt him, but from how he described it, even without cover for the TWC, he still wouldn’t have been able to take them down. His rolling to hit and to wound was just that bad. However, I’m going to keep this in mind, I need to include some way to stop a Dedicated Close Combat unit.

He also talks about Tactical Terminators being his best Close Combat units; and that he only needed them in close combat against stuff that could crush them, everything else he couldn’t get to. This is important. It doesn’t matter that they can kill 9 MEq on the charge, if they can’t kill enough after taking at least 2/3 of those losses (I expect Dedicated Close Combat units to be able to do at least as well as these guys) to cause notable damage, they aren’t the Close Combat unit you’re looking for. Why am I harping on this? Because to me it is something that I can really keep in mind when deciding how good a unit is in Close Combat and how good it is as a Counter-Assault unit. That’s why.

Requirement 3: Something(s) that can dislodge enemy units from objectives.

And why not? Why not be able to tell your opponent that they can’t claim that objective anymore? Why hasn’t this been thought of before? Well, I guess it’s the terrain. With most of my lists when I can do this it’s from massed firepower, but with the NOVA style terrain (which these requirements are based off of) you can’t get that kind of firepower at long range without being unable to really shoot at anything else. Plus, with all of the LoS blocking terrain you couldn’t bring enough long-range guns to bear to shift units, especially if they are completely out of sight or Go to Ground. The Terrain will be spoken of in a different article.

Okay, okay, back on topic here. There are various ways to shift units besides long-range firepower. Assault Terminators (either transport) are one way. Personally, I don’t really like that option. Close Combat units in general that can get to the enemy, now that I can roll with because they don’t cost an arm and a leg to field reliably. Personally, I’d like to be able to shoot them off of the objective, but I don’t have the option of long-range. Which leaves short-range. Large Crusader Squads with Bolters? No, they are too specific in their usefulness and inefficient. What else do we have to choose from? Terminators. The problem there is getting them to the enemy. When do I need to push them off? At least T5? I’ll be charging them on turn 5 assuming a few factors. The first is that they aren’t less than 6” from the table edge. The Second is that I can take a Direct Route. The Third is that we don’t play anything but Pitched Battle. I’m not going to continue with this route, I can see already that it’s going badly.

So shooting won’t work unless I drop in some Terminator (Drop Pods). That would kind of work, but I fear risking so many points in a Drop Pod (especially when there are multiple units that expensive). So I don’t like that option. Close Combat units it is. I really can’t see a better way to go about this.

And that’s the last of the requirements. I put a little bit of thought into it and finally came up with the following list.

Emperor’s Champion: Vow (Accept); -140

Terminator Squad (5): 2 Assault Cannons, Tank Hunters; -255

Terminator Squad (5): 2 Assault Cannons, Tank Hunters; -255

Terminator Squad (5): 2 Assault Cannons, Tank Hunters; -255

Crusader Squad (6/1): Power Weapon, Meltagun, Frags; Rhino: Extra Armor, Smoke; -191

Crusader Squad (6/1): Power Weapon, Meltagun, Frags; Rhino: Extra Armor, Smoke; -191

Crusader Squad (5): Missile Launcher, Plasma Gun; -96

Crusader Squad (5): Missile Launcher, Plasma Gun; -96

Crusader Squad (5): Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Rhino: Extra Armor, Smoke; -154

Crusader Squad (5): Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Rhino: Extra Armor, Smoke; -154

Land Speeder: TML, Heavy Bolter; -70

Land Speeder: TML, Heavy Bolter; -70

Land Speeder: TML, Heavy Bolter; -70


Okay, so I’ve got three Terminator units with Assault Cannons, two Close Combat Crusader Squads in Rhinos, two MM Bunkers (BP/CS setup), two backfield objective holders (Bolters), and the natural complimenting wing of Typhoons.

I know that I said that Terminators couldn’t fight Dedicated Close Combat units or get to enemy objectives quickly or reliably enough to be of consistent advantage. But they aren’t really doing either of those. This goes along with them having Assault Cannons instead of Cyclones. I’ve had an urge recently to work on more aggressive lists, which is where the MM Bunkers and Terminators come in. They push forward, taking control of the board, putting pressure on my opponent, and generally trying to kill stuff. They’re dangerous at 24”, quite deadly at 12”. The Terminators won’t deal with Dedicated Close Combat units, but unless what they face is really good, they should come out on top, more-so considering their numbers and the potential aid of the two Squads to help draw attacks/deal early wounds. 5 Terminators can be brought down. How about 15? After they all shoot you? Plus the four Crusader Squads? If something can do that then it doesn’t matter what I bring. And if I don’t adjust my tactics to respond to it I deserve to let it eat my Terminators.

Moving on, the Close Combat squads were originally in Drop Pods, and by themselves that is a great option. However, I cannot afford to only have two Rhinos on the table (and two Rhinos that will be moving forward aggressively), so I need the Saturation more than the guaranteed ability to come down on an enemy objective. Plus, I can dedicate the Close Combat squads when I need them, rather than when I get them. Admitedly, I don’t have as much control of where I dedicate them, but I’m not exactly limited to a small section of the board, either. Plus, when I get ready to assault onto an objective, I can hop out of my Rhino and assault directly, rather than hopping out and getting shot before I charge (or getting Charged myself). And what’s the worst that happens? I get de-meched before I move? Unlikely, impossible with proper deployment, and then they simply run up with the Terminators, running to get a head-start as to act as Bubble-wrap/grant cover saves/get to the enemy sooner. I’d appreciate being in Drop pods (and I’d be able to afford another Initiate and Neophyte in each squad), but I’m not exactly crippled using Rhinos and they grant a greater benefit to the rest of my army.

Some potential flaws in this include only having 4 real vehicles (I hardly ever count the Typhoons for some reason). All of which advance into the Midfield and all of which are prime targets. With some play-testing I might be able to make judgment calls as to which my opponent deems the greater threat (Typhoons or Rhinos) and protect appropriately, creating decision conflicts between the more vulnerable or the more important.

Another would be if I face an army that can beat up my forward units, what do I do? Sit back and shoot them? Try to outmaneuver them? I’m not good at either of those, all I can really hope to do is both of the above and force my opponent into situations where I have the advantage (such as either moving into my charge-range or enduring another round of shooting, never giving them the chance to get the charge off when I can, you know, stuff I should be doing anyway).

But how do we really measure how well I can kill stuff? With the Metric System of course! Let’s see what we get with this list:





That’s right. Does anyone remember when I tried to make a working Close Combat list? I tried but by attempting to give it enough Anti-Tank I diluted the Close Combat without making it a true Shooty Army, so it was just generally a cross between a mess and a Shooty wannabe. Let me ask you, what is this? Is it a Close Combat Army? But what you need in DMS is 20, and we’ve exceeded that by a greater margin than we have the 40 DMCC we need.

I adjusted the numbers to take into account certain limitations, such as not counting the Missile Launcher squad in close combat as well as only including the charge bonus when I could rely on getting it, assuming that I don’t shoot Infantry with the Close Combat squads, ignoring the Plasma Guns against Vehicles as well as the regular Meltaguns, and only counting weapons with a threat range of >26” against Land Raiders (so that I can kill them before they charge me). With the changed numbers, I may have to rely on assaulting vehicles on occasion, and I might have trouble with Land Raiders (but only in larger-numbers or if I get unlucky with my rolling). But I still have plenty of Anti-Infantry (okay, the DMCC didn’t do so hot, but Close Combat isn’t my goal either, so meh), and I am still nearly up to par against Vehicles. So even under realistic circumstances, I can pass muster with this list.

Back down to earth, we need to ask ourselves if we can handle Dedicated Close Combat units. I ran a few calculations and basically, except for really, really hard rocks I will survive as long as I don’t allow them to get a Multi-Assault

In essence, the numbers above don’t lie. This list can hold out against most Close Combat lists, and stand up to Shooty-Lists. I can de-mech the opponent, even Land Raiders, and should have enough range and mobility to stop those pesky Fast Skimmer armies.

Which forces me to think of another potential problem. Is this list too vulnerable? I have so much offensive ability, have I traded that for defensive ability and gone too far? It is certainly light on vehicles, but it has more infantry than my lists usually do, though not by a whole lot. If you consider that there are 4 vehicles while my lists usually have more like 8-9+Typhoons (Marshal Learoth’s NOVA list had 7+Typhoons, my Plasmaback list has 9+Typhoons) then you’ve got a fairly serious gap, especially considering that this list doesn’t have those AV13 fronts of the Predators. So I don’t have nearly enough Saturation as I would like.

That said, I’m not really a foot list and I don’t need to shoot from my Rhinos for a few turns, which means that I can pop-smoke gradually and keep those cover saves, granting cover saves to my Terminators as needed. Of course, you could argue that the amazing saves of the Terminators could draw fire from high-strength, low-AP weapons away from my Vehicles. But I’m not so sure about that.

Well, I like it. But I would have to get some playtesting with it eventually to have any strong certainty of it (like that’ll happen anytime soon, I’ve already got multiple lists in line for Playtesting).


  1. I think you got pretty close to what I was trying to do with my list, with a couple minor alterations.

    First, I'm not exactly trying to bring down dedicated close combat units. Rather, I'd like to have a reliable means to deal with them. Basically, I need something that can either A) Stand toe-to-toe with those units, B) A unit that is MEANT to die to such units, or C) Hold up those dedicated units for more than a turn. How I'm actually going to accomplish that is still up in the air. Maybe its having CC-units of my own, while they might not go toe-to-toe, they can do damage before dying. Right now I have this need combined with my troops issue.

    As you are noticing with your drop pod list, my MSU approach to my troops should actually work out (pending playtesting). As it currently stands, they are much more "useful" to me than my previous troops were. All that really got used in were the Razorbacks; and while they were worth the investment, their squad was not. My only real concern is the fact that I only have 4 vehicles on the board, like you do in your list. But based on what I saw from the games at Nova, that will be fairly survivable (i.e. terrain). Especially since my main firepower isn't coming from them.

    The third requirement (and really the most important), the ability to dislodge enemy units from objectives is really critical. Or even simply a way to contest those objectives. As much as I wanted to be able to do it via shooting, I just wasn't able to do it. There was just too much crap blocking the way, cover saves, or I simply couldn't see them behind the terrain. I could go the short ranged route as you opted for, but I'm concerned about how well that would be in actually dislodging a MEQ unit. For example, one of those terminator squads firing into a 5-man MEQ unit will only cause 2.296 unsaved wounds a turn. That isn't all that great. Now, they certainly could charge in to finish the job if they were close enough, but are they?

    If you're looking at deep striking them in closer, you face a very high chance of mishap. Especially if going for one of your opponent's objectives. So that isn't a reliable option. Or you could slog that way, but that brings you in range of all of your opponent's short-ranged weapons too. That's not to say it won't work on occasion, as they certainly have the ability to. But it relies more on chance than I like.

    Close combat is a most reliable way to kill off enemies in cover. It also puts you in a much better position to contest and/or pull enemies off their objective with the charge. So that is why I opted to go that route with my list. The problem is getting there and for that, I went with the drop pod as you already know. Will they be able to keep the pressure on and survive long enough to ensure the enemy doesn't reclaim the objective? I'm not sure yet. But I think theoretically, yes. Almost no one has dedicated CC-units in their backfield. If they do, they aren't advancing towards me and that is good. I'll also be protected from shooting because I'm in cover, as well as having FNP.

    If that goes awry, then my mobile mini-CC units will zerg one of the other objectives to contest/claim. All the while, I should be holding my own objectives with home squads. And if my opponent is doing the same thing to me, that is the beauty of MSU troops...I have enough stuff to tactically respond to those issues.

  2. Your list is fundamentally sound, but it does lack long range firepower. That worries me. The Typhoons will be able to do some damage on the first turn, but there is no guarantee that they'll survive past that first turn because they'll be the #1 target of your opponent. Does this let you get closer to your opponent with the Terminators? Yes, but again, you then reach their short/mid-range weapons too. This will limit the amount of time you have to open transports and kill your opponent's fire support. But other than that, I like the list.