Nov 2, 2011

List changes.

So I’ve come to a problem with my list (you can find it in the bottom link to the right->), specifically related to something I’ve noticed.

My Terminators don’t seem to do much. They usually kill something, they do damage, once a single unit of them held up and destroyed two Predators, keeping them from affecting the rest of the battle (a battle that I almost won but failed in a couple of points on target priority and taking what I could get). But they usually die, they don’t seem as reliable as the Dreadnoughts, and they are kind of expensive to field. If they get charged it’s by a Close Combat unit which tends to beat them up pretty badly.

Compare that to my Dreadnoughts, which kill several things, eliminate multiple enemy units, survive the whole battle, and quite effectively draw enemy fire away from other things like my Crusader Squads and Terminators and Drop Pods. They’ve gotten assaulted, a couple of times, but always come out fine and when they get off the Assault they gradually trim down the unit they’re fighting until it’s dead.

So why should I keep a 285 point unit when I could instead have an equally effective or better 160 point unit? I could really use that 125 extra points, so I’m making that change to my list.

There’s another question though. Terminator units don’t really shine for me, mostly because they have Assault Cannons instead of a Multi-Melta (the difference between reliably killing anything, and reliably hurting most things). The Assault Cannons are Tank Hunting but still. Granted the Assault Cannons have a 46% chance to kill a Rhino compared to a 31% chance, so 148% chance for 178% cost. What if the Dreadnought could get two Multi-Meltas? Well, not a Dreadnought, a Command Squad. The question that I mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph is: Is a Command Squad a better purchase than a Terminator Command Squad?

I already know that, while the Terminators are more deadly in Close Combat, they aren’t deadly enough to be worth comparing there. The first and most important difference is comparing two Meltaguns to two Tank Hunting Assault Cannons. Again, 46% chance for the Assault Cannons to kill a Rhino; 48% chance for the Meltaguns to kill a Rhino. Let’s go farther and compare the chances to do anything: 94% to 87%, respectively. So the two are virtually the same, what about against Land Raiders? 18% to 38% and 60% to 73%. Okay, so against Rhinos the Assault Cannons are more reliable (the advantage that Suppression weapons have) but against Land Raiders the Meltaguns are not only twice as likely to kill them but also much less likely to fail. You could argue that I’m already doing fine against Land Raiders, and it is Rhinos that I need to concentrate on, especially as far as doing at least something goes. So the percentage difference (yes, I’m very into statistical comparisons in this paragraph) between the Meltaguns and the Assault Cannons is: 114% chance to Kill a Rhino, 92% chance to affect a Rhino, 207% chance to Kill a Land Raider, and 122% chance to affect a Land Raider. So basically, better overall; especially when you consider the lowered price.

A Command Squad led by an unequipped Castellan with two Meltaguns in a Drop Pod costs 195 points. A Terminator Command Squad led by an unequipped Castellan with two Assault Cannons and Tank Hunters in a Drop Pod costs 310 points. If I drop the Terminator Command Squad I have (which actually costs 313 points) and add the extra 125 points from changing to a Dreadnought from a regular Terminator Squad I get 438 points to play around with. Get a Command Squad and there’s 243 points left-over. What can I do with 243 points? Get another Command Squad. Okay, 48 points left. I could get an Apothecary for each squad because FNP is good; 18 points left. You know, I don’t need those Smoke Launchers on the two original Dreadnoughts; they were just to spend a few left-over points anyway, so I’ll drop those for an extra 6 points. 24 points.

And here’s my problem. That problem I mentioned at the beginning of the article? Yeah, it wasn’t about the Terminators, they just led to this one. 24 points allows me to upgrade all six of my Crusader Squads to having Meltaguns instead of Plasma Guns. And now I’ve got Marshal Learoth’s DDP list. Exactly his list, point for point.

Now this isn’t to say that his is bad, it’s actually as optimized as it can get (unless, for some reason, there’s a better place to put those 24 points or the Plasma Guns are somehow a better choice or something). But the point is that it’s his. When I began to work on my list I put in Terminators for two reasons. The first was because I wanted an excuse to fit Assault Cannons in (I originally had Assault Cannons on the Dreadnoughts as well once I put them in); the second was because I wanted something to set my Drop Pod list apart from Marshal Learoth’s (I had no Dreadnoughts in the first couple of versions, mostly because they were in his and I thought I could get by without them). This may sound stupid, but I want my own list, not one that’s the same as someone else’s (this is not why I made those adjustments in the Casual versions of my list, if you were wondering; no, I am not paranoid, so stop watching my house).

So how do I overcome this problem? I don’t want to intentionally make a negative change to my list just to make it different, and I’m not really sure that I want to just have the difference of where I put those 24 points. Potentially I could take Missile Launchers instead of Multi-Meltas in my Crusader Squads so that I would have a weapon to deal with those pesky Dark Eldar should they run away from me, but I don’t think that would work unless I also took Meltaguns in my Crusader Squads which doesn’t fix the problem and in fact makes it worse by not being able to differentiate where those 24 points go.


Okay, to change the subject really quick, this is a perfect example of why I have a blog. Remember that the purpose of my blog is for me to get my thoughts into written form, rather than just wondering and then my mind drifting off to something else. Were this blog to help others (that is not the primary goal, it is a much-sought-after side benefit) then I would have ended it here with another paragraph asking for advice. But because I have forced myself to give my thoughts form, I have come to my own conclusion. Now, back to your regular programming.


But what’s wrong with Marshal Learoth’s DDP list? It isn’t like he gave it his own flair that I’m copying (unless you count being optimized as his personal flair, in which case I am a horrible plagiarist), he just practiced the concept and refined it, improving it until he came with the best list he could make. It’s on his website, which means that it is the best form of the list he can make, rather than his personal form. It doesn’t have anything that is there because of personal preference (bias maybe, but not preference); it is just simply the most Optimized list of that archetype that he can come up with. It isn’t quite his list; you could make a better argument that the Defensive Drop Pod Archetype is his archetype because, so far as I know, he is the first and most prominent to come up with a really good version of it.

And my version does have my own personal preference in it, Plasma Guns, and with those 24 points I can upgrade one of the Castellans to a Marshal (+1 Ld army-wide) with Krak Grenades, give the Castellan Meltabombs (retain some threat to vehicles in melee) and give both Commanders Bolters. There’s not a whole lot you can do with 24 points that gives an actual benefit (a special skill in one of the Command Squads or a Fighting Company Champion wouldn’t be notably better than what I’ve done, and I prefer the benefit to be army-wide rather than just to one unit), but the upgrades I’ve picked are Fluff based, further making my list my own. The Marshal [will be] Devjon, currently the Castellan I use, and the Castellan will be the leader of the Sisters of Battle contingent of my Crusade. I could go a little farther and make one of the Squads all Brother Initiates and the other all Sister Initiates (Marshal in the former and Castellan in the latter), but we’ll see (aka, no). I don’t get to field Terminators, but I am able to more accurately portray my Crusade and I should be able to (fairly) easily convert this to the casual version. So it’s a list that I’m happy with, it has my own personal tastes in it, and it is still nearly optimized. Here it is:

Emperor’s Champion: Vow (Abhor the Witch…), -110

Marshal: Bolter, Kraks; Command Squad (5): Bolters, 2 Meltaguns, Apothecary; Drop Pod; -228

Castellan: Bolter, Meltabombs; Command Squad (5): Bolters, 2 Meltaguns, Apothecary; Drop Pod; -216

3x Dreadnought: Multi-Melta, DCCW, Heavy Flamer, Extra Armor; Drop Pod; -160x3

6x Crusader Squad (5): Bolters, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -126x6

3x Land Speeder: Typhoon Missile Launcher, Heavy Bolter, -70x3


In a few days I’ll update the page with my lists on it, for now I want it available to see the original list. Next up is going to be an actual battle report (still deciding who against though) and I hope that it won’t be another 5 days or so until I get around to posting it. Sometime I also want to get a post up about how to win, we’ll see when I get the chance to do that.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that I have already tried scaling this to the Casual version as well as a 1,500 point version and it seems to scale remarkably easily. For both (as well as scaling the Casual to a 1,500 point version) there were almost no extra points left over from having to drop units (It fit exactly).


  1. I'm honored that you believe it to be my archetype. To be fair, it was built off of Stelek's "Best Of" 1500 point list. However, he didn't do it very efficiently. Nor did he even advise the person asking the question on how to use the army, leading me to believe at the time that he didn't know himself. It looked interesting, so I expanded it to 2000 points. Playtested it, refined the lists over the course of dozens of games, and developed its strategy. Sure enough, once I got the quirks out, I found that I was easily able to take advantage of what few things we have going for us in our ancient codex. Few people even knew how to come close to knowing how to deal with it.

    However, while you might consider the archetype mine, I would disagree regarding the ownership of "lists". I build lists for fun. You've been reading IN for a long time. How many lists have I put out? 30? 40? Perhaps more? Almost all of them competitive. What does that leave other people? Not much room to maneuver with a codex with limited good options. So does that mean all of these lists are mine? Of course not. Just because I post it on IN, doesn't mean its "mine". Uniqueness is difficult to obtain in our age. That is why I have no issues borrowing list ideas from others. I can understand the need to field different lists than me, but just make sure not to do it to your detriment. :/

    I build lists and my style is making everything as redundant and efficient as possible. That is my motivation most of the time. If I have to put a word to my personal tastes, it is on the shooty side of things, with a dash of close combat thrown in for spice. But I do that with almost every archetype, all of my lists, and nearly everyone else's lists when asked for advice. *shrug*

    But I do defend two particular archetypes (Gunline/DDP) over the others, because my experience tells me they perform better overall. Perhaps that plays into my bias and preferences. ;)

  2. And to finish my thought regarding Stelek, he STILL doesn't know how to use the list. Even when I've taken great pains to try and explain it to him. Even in person. He just cannot grasp the intricacies I guess.

  3. Actually, I'd say that of the lists you've made while I was reading IN 20 would be the upper limit, and that's counting different versions of lists that you've tried out and changed (I've been reading for only about 7-8 months, so there could have easily been more lists before I started following).

    While Stelek may have thought of the concept before you, you were the one to take it up to 2,000 points and smooth it out and learn how to use it well. I would have to check Stelek's post again, but if I remember correctly he was just using Drop Pods instead of Rhinos (and, by extension, having a more Deep-strike oriented army) rather than what we know as the DDP archetype.

    One of the things that I realized in the last few paragraphs of my article was pretty much just what you're saying. You try to design the best lists you can, and with however many years to do it there is little left to improve (though there is some, demonstrated by occasional changes to your lists). While you could claim that 'Primarily shooty with a dash of Close Combat' could be your preference, it's general enough that I can live with also having it. Same thing with being super-optimized, it isn't specific to you, you're just the most well-known person who does (for Black Templar). It's not like you included some particular unit into all of your lists for no other reason that you like it (such as always taking a unit of Attack Bikes with Power Weapons, or a Venerable Dreadnought when you didn't need one, or a Neophyte in every squad because you thought it fluffy, or never included any weapons with a range greater than 24" because you just didn't like them, or whatever).

    I'm not entirely sure why Stelek doesn't grasp the list, it might be because he hasn't put enough effort into doing so (wouldn't surprise me if unless he actually thought to do it on his own, he wouldn't try it out just because someone else says he should); or it could be that he does understand how effective it can be but he knows so many other lists that can do as well or better and he just doesn't have as great of an opinion on it.

  4. Amusing, in my local, the Dreadnoughts stink and the Terminators shine. Pull them out of the Pods and put Cyclones on them.

    Heh, I dislike the Gunline & New DDP because they have too much CC capability cut in favor of a bit more shooting, but I'm telling you to uincrease your firepower.

  5. The Terminators do their job, but not much better than the Dreadnoughts and for a much higher cost, so instead I chose to benefit from having an extra unit, even if none of them are quite as good as Terminators.

    And it wasn't Assault Cannons instead of Cyclones, and it wasn't the cost difference of the Pod, they just don't do enough damage to justify their higher cost in the past several games.

    Although I don't think I would ever Deep-Strike Terminators without a Drop Pod. It is 30 points but you gain near immunity to mishaps, greater control of where they land, and you can combine it with other Drop Pods to give your opponent trouble.

  6. I'm less paranoid about teleporting Terminators in these days. Yes, there is a larger risk than with a Drop Pod, but especially for the THDC squads there is a lot more flexibility in placement with their 48" range. The Assault squad is a different story, but since they are the ones I've actually lost from bad dice rolls on RZ checks (fail the check & roll a huge fall back number) and still won those games, I don't sweat it.

    Using Dreadnoughts to plink and tarpit is good, but they lack the offense be lethal killers. DMS 1.63, DMCC 1.875, DRPG 2.222{S} + 7.5 (A). Which is cool vs MSU MEQ, but not so much if your opponent is running bigger squads unless your primary goal is to tarpit instead of killing them all and moving on to the next unit.

    Remember that my list almost invariably deploys everything but the Crusader squads on the board (2xTHDC, 1xAssault, 3x double LS-Typhoons) in cover. With all that 48" range (50% of DMS, 70% of DRPG), even if I'm outgunned technically, it takes a turn or two for that to show up as my opponent has to get into range of me. Which means worries about DS mishaps come very rarely anyway. The primary list is a 'Nid list with Doom in it. I want it to go first and give my Speeders a chance to kill the Doom before any infantry hit the table.

    Another consideration, these are "leg" lists with only the Speeders having any real mobility and get to compensate with my concentrated long range units.

    The biggest difference between the DDP and the DS lists are in the deployment phase. Both play the same strategically, but the DDP (except for the Speeders) _must_ 100% fall from the sky, whereas the DS _may_ 100% fall from the sky. Against some opponents, it is better to be able to have that firepower in hand on the table.

  7. It's extremely hard to accurately compare Drop Pod lists with your Deep Strike list, it's like comparing a Mech list against yours. The strategy differs more than from just the Deployment.

    In my next article I'm going to try and point out how the Drop Pods affected what my opponent (who is, actually, me) could do, and that's something that your list is unable to really achieve. On the other hand, your list can more easily start on the board (mostly, the Drop Pods themselves can't) without setting itself at too much of a disadvantage, whereas my list and Marshal Learoth's would have to spend turns running forward through enemy fire just to get in range, and they have to get quite close to be able to do anything effective.

    I'm beginning to wonder if you understand how the Drop Pods actually help, it may be almost impossible for anyone to do so without actually playing the list (and playing it correctly, rather than how I was in my first few games) so don't take this wrong. I'll be working on that Battle Report this afternoon and I hope to have it up by tonight, hopefully I'll be able to demonstrate exactly how it works (because, as my early experience shows, even thousands of words explaining how it deals with different threats and why it works isn't enough to teach someone).