Oct 29, 2012

Versus Cynicism Part 3: Adapting to Sixth with Defensive Drop Pods

With the new edition and the new FAQ there are a few changes that we need to deal with when building or adjusting Drop Pod lists into the new edition. Yes, the changes do upset what we normally look at when designing Defensive Drop Pod lists. Yes, we do have to deal with some problems. No, it is not difficult.

Probably the most distinct change that we face has been the new Drop Pod Assault rules. No longer can we deny kill points to our opponent for several turns; now we have boots on the ground at the beginning of turn one. However, this is overall a positive change as there are general advantages to lists taking one or more Drop Pods as supplemental units (no fear of waiting until turn five for one), and it is not the most harm the DDP lists will suffer from the changes, not even close.

That honor goes to the BRB and the general reserve changes. Not counting units that have to go in reserve, we can only reserve half of our units. With required HQ choices, that provides a particular problem, as the Emperor’s Champion is one and the Warlord is two, we will have to deploy one of them as normal at least. Having to leave a scant few units on the field to get immediately killed by our opponent?


But there is one final major change to the Reserve rules that should be mentioned. The obvious 3+ reserve rolls on turns 2 and 3, automatic turn 4. This is basically the same as the new Drop Pod Assault rules in that we get our pods down sooner, so we have to come to grips with the fact that we need to be more killy and less denial, and that means almost a total refocus in our design philosophy from last edition.

But never fear for not all of these changes are for the worse. Some of them will actually benefit us while others will simply need to be adapted to (in a new edition? *gasp*) and I am sure that the DDP list will stay a strong list when we get through this time of change.

First off, the new Drop Pod Assault Rules are an awesome change. Not in every way, but in one particular way: you choose which half comes down on turn 1. With our new focus on a killing list instead of a denial list, this is absolutely superb. Can you imagine how much more control you now have? With a Drop Pod list at that! Before, controlling the battlefield was one of the greatest strengths of the list archetype, and now we are so much better at it. That single change may alone counteract the downsides of coming onto the field sooner, vehicles exploding more easily, and being forced to have units on the field at first.

Do you think I’m exaggerating? Take Marshal Learoth’s DDP list from 5th edition. One Crusader Squad and all of his distraction units can come down. Or, if he wants to keep some distraction units for later need, he can keep any or all of them back and just drop down more Crusader Squads. Hell, he could change things up each time and customize which units come down depending on what he’s facing and how they are deployed. 

An assault-based army? Crusader Squads scattered around in the back and maybe a Command Squad or two to snipe the more dangerous vehicles; when his opponent has spread out some to deal with where everything is, drop the Dreadnoughts to kill things piece-meal.

A parking lot? Dreadnoughts and Command Squads right next to them to start the destruction, leaving most of the Scoring units safely in reserve until the most threatening guns are dealt with.

A Mobile Mechanized army? Dreadnoughts and Command Squads to kill the lead vehicles and hem them in with vehicle hulls, killing much of their effectiveness before your Scoring units arrive.

Infantry Horde? Make sure that you get your Dreadnoughts in first to funnel them and then bring in your Command Squads later to target those funnel points.

Deep Striking Land Raiders? Keep the Command Squads in reserve to answer the threat.

And let’s be clear: you could never do this on purpose before! Sure, you would likely get a mostly even split, but you were forced to use what you got; now you can customize. To further emphasize this (because it needs it), you can’t even do this with normal lists. Yes, now Drop Pod lists are better able to respond to whatever enemy you face than any other list. (Take that, supposed codex creep!)

But those are only examples from Marshal Learoth’s DDP list, which needed to focus on having lots of similar units to ensure that you would get what you needed. Since we know that we will get what we need anyway, a number of options open up to us.

Crusader Squads don’t have to be all equipped the same anymore. You could give some anti-vehicle weapons and some anti-infantry weapons. You could decide that you generally want two of them to land in the back and grab objectives; give them Lascannons or Missile Launchers. You may decide that you want to have only one Command Squad with Meltaguns and one with Plasma Guns because you only expect to need to immediately deal with a single heavy vehicle at a time. You may even have a mix of Assault Cannons and Multi-Meltas on your Dreadnoughts for the same reason. Or you may decide to take Terminators instead of Dreadnoughts and just put Teleport Homers on your 
Castellans (so you won’t scatter because Terminators can no longer take Drop Pods).

And we still function much like a Kill-Point denial list. The tactics don’t fundamentally change, as you still need distraction units and they still function the same. These are still Defensive Drop Pod lists, and they still function in much the same way as long as you adapt them to be now better.

However, not all is well the new edition. As I have said before, anti-infantry firepower will be more prevalent due to the nerf to vehicles. I still believe that this is 100% true based on my few 6th edition games and the same reasoning I had before, and we will need to take steps to deal with it, namely having more bodies. I’m not a huge fan of max-bodies, but frankly 5-man Crusader Squads just aren’t what they used to be (lol) and Drop Pods don’t protect as well as they used to. So I think that it will be necessary to have at least close to a full accompaniment of Neophytes, bringing up the cost of each Crusader Squad by 50 points (40 for the one with the Emperor’s Champion in it) and 64 for the Command Squads.

Unfortunately, that means that we would need to drop two-to-three Crusader Squads from typical DDP lists, and that just isn’t a very good idea (and does not conform to my 4+ Crusader Squads requirement for the next few list articles that I have). So let’s compromise what we need with what we can have to keep us at the correct number of points.

Converting my own Drop Pod list shouldn’t be too difficult, that would be my tournament goal list which will be updated once this article is posted, so here is the original for reference:

Emperor’s Champion: Vow (Abhor the Witch…), -110
Marshal: Bolter, Krak Grenades; Command Squad (5): Bolters, 2 Meltaguns, Apothecary; Drop Pod; -228              
Castellan: Bolter, Meltabombs; Command Squad (5): Bolters, 2 Meltaguns, Apothecary; Drop Pod; -216
Dreadnought: Multi-Melta, DCCW, Heavy Flamer, Extra Armor; Drop Pod; -160
Dreadnought: Multi-Melta, DCCW, Heavy Flamer, Extra Armor; Drop Pod; -160
Dreadnought: Multi-Melta, DCCW, Heavy Flamer, Extra Armor; Drop Pod; -160
Crusader Squad (5): Bolters, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -126
Crusader Squad (5): Bolters, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -126
Crusader Squad (5): Bolters, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -126
Crusader Squad (5): Bolters, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -126
Crusader Squad (5): Bolters, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -126
Crusader Squad (5): Bolters, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -126
Land Speeder: Typhoon Missile Launcher, Heavy Bolter, -70
Land Speeder: Typhoon Missile Launcher, Heavy Bolter, -70
Land Speeder: Typhoon Missile Launcher, Heavy Bolter, -70
So what are we going to do? Why, we’re going to make the Dreadnoughts dedicated to anti-infantry and anti-light mech while we trim down the Marshal and Castellan to have no equipment to save points. Then we will see how large the Squads are if we drop one Crusader Squad and if we drop two.
Changing the Dreadnoughts to have Assault Cannons instead of Multi-Meltas gives us 30 points, and we get 24 points shaved off of the Commanders. Dropping one Crusader Squad gives us 180 points to spend on extra bodies. (I like the Multi-Melta/Plasma Gun combination for the Crusader Squads, so we’re keeping that for now.) One extra body for every remaining squad would be two Initiates and five Neophytes, which would cost 82 points. We can do that twice for 164 points and get another Initiate somewhere.
That’s pretty good, but what if we dropped another Crusader Squad? That would instead give us 306 points to spend on extra bodies and +1 for every remaining squad would only cost 72 points. Do that four times and we have 18 points left (Initiate and Krak Grenades on a Castellan). That would put us at nearly full in every squad.
But a question arises. A good rule of thumb is to spend about 40% of your points on Troops, as in the past that has seemed to give us enough without having spent too much on the less deadly units in most circumstances. Granted, that was last edition, but as far as I can tell, 40% will still be a good amount for Troops; so let’s consider that.
With the original list, 38% of the points were spent on Troops. Dropping one Crusader Squad puts it at 37%, and dropping two puts it at only 34%. Obviously, this could be amended by dropping a few of the Initiates out of the Command Squads in favor of putting them in the Crusader Squads and I might be inclined to do that, except that only dropping one Crusader Squad will leave me with 7 man squads which should be sufficient and less vulnerable to AP 4 and Blasts/Templates.
By dropping only one Crusader Squad I also end up with a loose sixteen points which I could use for either an Initiate but I think instead I will give my Warlord a Storm Shield and a Bolter to make him more durable. But there is another change we can make. Switch two of the Crusader Squads to have Missile Launchers instead of Multi-Meltas and we can put them in the back to guard objectives and provide some fire-support (again, either on turn one or sometime later, depending on what I need). It’s tempting to exchange those Missile Launchers and Plasma Guns for Lascannons, but I think we have enough low-AP fire at closer ranges already, so I’ll keep those Frag Missiles available.
And here is what the final list looks like:
Emperor’s Champion: Vow (Abhor the Witch…), -110
Castellan (Warlord): Bolter, Storm Shield; Command Squad (7): Bolters, 2 Meltaguns, Apothecary; Drop Pod; -258           
Castellan; Command Squad (7): Bolters, 2 Meltaguns, Apothecary; Drop Pod; -242
Dreadnought: Assault Cannon, DCCW, Heavy Flamer, Extra Armor; Drop Pod; -150
Dreadnought: Assault Cannon, DCCW, Heavy Flamer, Extra Armor; Drop Pod; -150
Dreadnought: Assault Cannon, DCCW, Heavy Flamer, Extra Armor; Drop Pod; -150
Crusader Squad (5/2): Bolters, Shotguns, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -146
Crusader Squad (5/2): Bolters, Shotguns, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -146
Crusader Squad (5/2): Bolters, Shotguns, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -146
Crusader Squad (5/2): Bolters, Shotguns, Missile Launcher, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -146
Crusader Squad (5/2): Bolters, Shotguns, Missile Launcher, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -146
Land Speeder: Typhoon Missile Launcher, Heavy Bolter, -70
Land Speeder: Typhoon Missile Launcher, Heavy Bolter, -70
Land Speeder: Typhoon Missile Launcher, Heavy Bolter, -70
The Typhoons will start on the board so that I can have my Emperor’s Champion in a Crusader Squad. I think that the Castellans count as having a Drop Pod (because they are leading their Command Squads), so that will let me reserve one of the Typhoons if there aren’t enough places to hide them on the board.
It’s that easy.

Oct 22, 2012


Just an update, I am in the process of writing that Drop Pod list article that I promised so expect that sometime in the next week. Until then, I have an announcement to make.

On December 1 (EDIT: Due to an MTG tournament scheduled for Dec 1, the date is being moved forward to either Nov 17 or 24, not sure which yet though), my brother and I will be hosting a Warhammer 40k tournament at Who’s Game House in Rapid City, South Dakota. It’ll be 1,000 points and four games, with brackets kind of like NOVA, with prizes for the winners of each bracket as well as a painting prize and a prize to a random other contestant. The tournament will go from 9am to around 6pm with the first hour dedicated to making sure that all the lists are legal.

The reason I bring this up is because if anyone thinks that they will be able to make it, please let me know and I can put you on the list. We only have a limited amount of table space which means that we can only have 12 players so if you want to come be sure to register early. 

Once again, if you are interested in coming just let me know so I can put you on the list (for sure or tentatively) and if you have any questions feel free to ask away. And now I’ll get back to the more important article I’m writing.

Sep 23, 2012

Versus Cynicism Part 2: Warlords

HQs really haven’t changed much in how you will need to equip them. If you’re going to be spending many points on them or putting them into close combat, then it becomes imperative that you have the tools to handle yourself there, but otherwise the traits are often more important.

Since Power Weapons are AP3 you will need to think about whether or not you want to be able to kill Terminators and the like. If yes, then you need a Powerfist, otherwise a Lightning Claw or less will do just fine and let you keep your high Initiative. You may think that you need a 2+ save in order to keep it against Power Weapons, but don’t bother. Powerfists will be more common than before and a 3+ Invulnerable is a better way to go.

If you expect to face challenges then Terminator Honors becomes a good purchase and if you are really decking-out your Warlord (Powerfist, Terminator Armor, Storm Shield) then you should probably also grab an Adamantine Mantle if points allow.

Commander versus Chaplain comes down to the rest of your list. If you have an assault oriented list or a particular close combat unit then the Chaplain will suit you well. Otherwise the Commander provides a very nice army-wide benefit.

In the new edition, I think that spending the 15 points for an extra wound on your Warlord (a Marshal or a Master of Sanctity) becomes much more worth it, especially if you already have an Adamantine Mantle.

As for the Warlord traits, almost all of them are only selectively useful. However, if you are taking a defensive-based Warlord, such as one leading a Terminator Squad with Heavy Weapons or sitting back with some squads, then Personal Traits are the best candidates, potentially making your Warlord scoring, have FNP when near an objective or Counter-Attack when in your deployment zone. For an aggressive Warlord either Command Traits or Personal Traits are good choices, Command being a little more suited to having several assaulting units while Personal Traits work better for a single powerful unit.
However, since the trait you get is random, make sure that you do not rely on any of them when designing your list. That’s all I have for now, but next I will be getting into Drop Pods hopefully.

Versus Cynicism Part 1: No, our troops aren't terrible.

So I was reading through the comments on a recent article on Implausible Nature (http://www.implausiblenature.net/1/post/2012/09/bt-community-question-killing-stuff.html) and what I found in the comments was a general despair at our ability to compete now.

Several people are under the impression that Black Tide was suddenly a good list, Algesan and Bigdunc believe that our troops are basically worthless and that we should either look predominantly to allies for scoring units, go for very few troops and just kill our opponent’s, or just not take Black Templars as our Primary Detachment.

What the hell? Where did this come from? Okay, I can see the reason for focusing on killing the opponent’s troops, but as our only sure option? Was their some new FAQ that I didn’t know about that doubled the price of our initiates or took away their armor save? Did every other army not get affected by the new edition? Did Crusader Blobs suddenly become durable or dangerous?

Sixth edition did not kill the Black Templars, not by a long shot. Are the a few dynamic changes for us? Between the edition and the FAQ, yes, but still nothing that ruins our ability to compete. We are still basically the same army that we were. Our troops are just as good and just as bad as they have always been and a little Righteous Zeal move doesn’t fundamentally change us.

The biggest changes that we have gotten are that we have to move the full distance for Righteous Zeal, we have new Drop Pod Assault Rules, we have to take another HQ and our Typhoons are even less durable in comparison to Rhinos than they were before.

Strategy-wise, this means that we will need to make sure our non-close combat Crusader Squads are in vehicles and we need another HQ. That’s it. There are a few adjustments we have to make to our lists due to the new edition, but those are adjustments that everyone will have to make and are by no means particularly harmful to Black Templars.

Okay, Objective-holding Crusader Squads with guns need Rhinos and we should spend 100 points on a Marshal for Leadership 10 across our army. Got it. Why are we no longer viable as a Primary detachment again? Is it because our lists need some fine tuning to fit better with the new edition?

You know what? I’m going to work on that. I’ll go through what we need to change to get our Drop Pod lists to function right with their new rules, do a thorough examination of some good HQ outfits to go with and what Warlord traits might be good. I’ll analyze which vows are ideal to take now and maybe even get into how we stand between close combat and shooting. Oh, and I will do it all without looking to allies to make our codex function correctly because we don’t need them.

If you want to go with only a few troops and try to out-kill your opponent (Kill Them All), that’s fine. That strategy has been around, fairly unexplored, for a while now and is only recently getting some more attention due to success that at least one player has had with it, but I will be focusing on 4+ troop choices predominantly because we can.

I’m going to get working on those posts I’ve promised now, but if anyone has any questions or comments feel free to bring them forward and I will be more than happy to read and answer them.

Sep 1, 2012

Some initial 6th ideas.

I really should apologize for not posting in…a while, especially since I don’t have school as an excuse anymore (well, until this past week anyway). But this will be the last time I do so.

The last time I apologize, I mean. Warhammer has kind of fallen behind for me, including reading articles from YTTH, Implausible Nature and 3++ (something that I will be trying to start again soon), and with the new school year, I’m just going to not post very often. I’m saying this now so that anyone interested has a heads-up and won’t be expecting regular posts. That said, I will be able to finally get some 6th edition games in soon and I will likely be sharing my thoughts and ideas as they come to me.

Speaking of which I haven’t had a chance to really examine the changes in 6th edition, but I have been able to look at a few and I thought of some things which might affect Black Templar List building. Like the changes to the vehicle damage chart and my thoughts on the little I’ve read about Black Templars now being worth fielding for close combat, but first, Terminators.

Again, I haven’t read much since before 6th came out but I did catch a couple of articles by Marshal Learoth about Terminators being more durable now and Terminator based armies (such as 3-5 units of CML Terminators in a single army). Frankly, I don’t really see that happening for a number of reasons.

First, Mech is generally less durable, especially against Torrent of Fire weapons. So there will likely be more anti-infantry firepower in general now. Second, AP 2 is actually different against vehicles than AP 3, so Plasma will begin to re-emerge to replace some of the Missile Launchers. People will also become more aware that Terminators will need to be cleared out by low-AP firepower instead of protected Power Weapons, and Plasma is again a good choice for that.

So while Terminators will be more durable in close combat, I’m expecting there to be more options taken to handle them. They will still be usable, but not really a huge power-boost.

But I mentioned Torrent of Fire being much more effective against vehicles. That’s true now that we have Hull Points you can be guaranteed that three glancing hits will kill most vehicles. Penetrating is still more effective, but without a low AP you’re relying on a chance to score an instant kill and I see weight of fire becoming more rewarding than before.

Since AP 2 is also more effective, Assault Cannons become a more valid choice over the Cyclone Missile Launchers. Twice as many shots and I think rending hits are AP 2 (they were against Infantry, and I think I saw that they are against vehicles now, too). Range isn’t too much of an issue when you deploy correctly, and with Tank Hunter and harmful glances their lower strength isn’t too much of an issue.

They may not become the new standard, but they are a little bit better choice than they were in 5th.

Related to Terminators and as a side note, Artificer Armor is now “Power Weapon proof” armor. 20 points is still too expensive in my opinion, and Terminator Armor is still better 90% of the time, but it’s worth a brief mention.

Now then, Close Combat. How are we supposed to be better at it again? Rage is a little better than the old Preferred Enemy when we charge, and now we can stack that with Litanies of Hate? Is that it? I guess our Terminators are more durable against Power Weapons, but as I mentioned above they are more likely to be targeted outside of close combat. So what’s our big advantage that makes us a close combat army?

It’s still dead. We will lose our Power Weapons early because we have no Sergeants and after the initial charge we are, at best, marines with an extra attack each. Before we could get by with Accept Any Challenge, because it made us always better in close combat, but now we have one shot and then we wail uselessly against our foes.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just not looking for a close combat advantage because I started out wanting to play more shooty Black Templars, but I just don’t see any real steps in the direction of Close Combat aside from Powerfists being more effective on the first round of combat (but worse afterwards).

Anyway, that’s about all I have for now. Well, there’s a little issue in that we can no longer take Drop Pods in our entire army, but that is a mistake on GW’s part and should be fixed when they get a chance to update the FAQ.

Any comments, thoughts or questions are, as always, welcome. Once I actually get a chance to really read through the 6th edition rules I may have more thoughts and the same will likely happen for the first few games I get in. Until next time.

Jul 5, 2012

FAQ Drop Pod Availibility Change


Sorry for my absence, I just haven’t really had much to post about and well, the internet has kinds of otherwise sucked me in. But now I have something important to share.

I was looking through the FAQ changes for the Black Templars and, right around those small changes to the transport options for Command Squads and Terminators I suddenly noticed that Drop Pods weren’t mentioned. I looked at the codex and had a small panic attack when I saw that Drop Pods were never given as an option on any of the units, nor was such a choice mentioned in the Dedicated Transports section.

Then I remembered that it was in the Drop Pod Assault entry on page 22 and I went back and verified that yes, Dreadnoughts, Terminators and Initiates can take Drop Pods. Except that they can’t anymore. Games Workshop has made a huge bungle and now there is no line in the codex which allows any unit to take Drop Pods, because they replaced the entire Drop Pod Assault entry.

It isn’t that the new Drop Pod Assault rules ruin the competiveness of Drop Pod lists now; they completely negate any legal ability to field them! Fortunately, I’ve still only got two of them.

In other news, once I am able to get a 6th edition rule book, I will likely be doing some posts about my thoughts on the changes and possibly the changes I will be making to the lists I have. I will also eventually try to give some indication of how I did in the local Escalation League that ended last month, so look forward to those.