Sunday, 4 April 2010

Adapting my hypothetical BA army...

Back in July last year, myself and one-time author of the blog Sqwerlpunk were discussing how to make Blood Angels as competitive as possible, with my intention being to purchase a bunch of Jump Packers to paint up as Raven Guard and play with the BA Dex.  We had a bit of a disagreement on the issue, me preferring THIS list while he liked THIS much better.

In the end, we didn't get much feedback from you faithful readers, and the project got delayed for whatever reason (me going on holiday, his lack of posting...) and I believe the fact I swamped the blog my adding things too quickly didn't help.  The main issue I have with Blogging that Forums have better is that you cannot easily subscribe to a thread.  You can get further comments emailed to you - but for me that's awkward - I hate to turn my laptop on and have 100 emails waiting - and you can subscribe to an RSS Feed, but, I don't know about you, mine seem very slow to update some days, it's quicker to manually check the site!

I am loathe to extend the number of Front Page Blog Posts - because this makes the page untidy, but also don't want those of you who tend to comment to miss my posts by supplying a lot, like the number YTTH or BoLS put out.  Anyway...

I decided to put as much Melta into my variant of the BA list as possible, to counteract the weakness of not having any real ranged fire support, and I did this mostly through Attack Bikes.  I have no especial love for the Attack Bike - but it seemed better for the build than the Land Speeder, due to sheer weight of numbers.  I planned to hide Corby in a Rhino for his bubble, and spit out MSUs of Assaulting Marines.  Now, the list had a bunch of problems, but like I said, 1st Draft.  (I also have no idea why the hell it was 1850 :s )

Moving into the new Codex, I like the original principle, that was diluted by the requirement of not having just one Rhino that makes enemy Target Priority easy.

Stelek, Chumbalaya, and Kirby have all already done Jumper Lists - but I'm doing something slightly different, by trying to update a list that always wanted to be Jumpers, but couldn't quite make it.

First thing's first;


Previously, I had Dante and Corby.  Now, Sang Priests aren't HQ anymore, they're Elites (yes!) and work in a similar fashion to Haemonculi (awesome!) in that they are 1-3/slot.  With that being the case, I ahve less reason to take 2 HQs.

I MUST have one though, so I look at the BA Dex for ideas.

Dante - We'll come back to.
Seth - No Jump Pack - out.
Astorath - makes the army better in CC, but adds an element of loss of control.  Not going to go down this route thanks - not my idea of Raven Guard fluff.
Sanguinor - No chance.  I've no doubt I could swing the fluff this way...but I won't.  Not now, anyway.
Mephiston - Again, no.  No JP, anyway.
Tycho - That's a different list.  Not a RG one.
Librarian - While it makes some sense for a RG force to be led by a Librarian, I personally like the idea of Captains doing it, and would more likely use him as a secondary HQ.  Remember, this isn't a purely competitive army, just a semi-competitive one.
Reclusiarch - No...the BA really pay for the enhanced statline on this chap.  Also =/= Captain.
Captain - So, it comes down to this guy or Dante.  Hmmm.

Well, the closest a Captain can get is 155 points, to Dante's 225.  Problems being - he doesn't get the Special Rules, a Deathmask, Artificer Armour, a re-roll in CC...

He's merely okay, if we try to tool him like Dante.  So, for now, let's try the cheaper guy, but equip him like Shrike...

Captain: w/ Lightning Claw, Lightning Claw, Jump Pack, Melta Bombs. - 160.  Well, that's a lot better, no?

But, do we need him to be so exclusively anti-infantry?  Well, his Storm Shield costs a massive 20 points.  He comes with a freaking 4++, and we pay 20 to upgrade to something 1/6 better? REALLY?!?!?  Not great, not great at all. - For now, let's go with Captain Clawface.

The lifeblood of the previous list was the 3 squads of VAS that brought a lot of anti-tank to the table in the form of Melta.  Luckily, the option for a Meltagun has been shifted across to the Regular Assault Squad - so let's go there first.  Previously, I had:

"5 Ass marines - PF, MBombs, Rhino - 170

5 Ass marines - PF, MBombs, Rhino - 170
5 Ass marines - PF, MBombs, Rhino - 170"

Now, I will aim to get that Melta in here, and increase the killiness these squads put out, and reduce the burden on the support elements of the list...

10 Assault Marines: w/ 2x Meltagun, Power Fist - 235

Well, that's a much better unit, but it's also a lot more expensive.  Do we need that Fist? In a 10-man unit it's likely to get some digs in, I suppose, and the unit will receive the minimum of incoming fire given that they'll drop beside you and melt your face.  But the Meltas provide the anti-tank the Fist previously (barely) provided...well, we shall leave it in for now, and triple up this unit, for a solid core of Troops.

Now we've spent (235x3) on Troops and 160 on HQ...865 altogether.  Almost half-way there.  The previous list featured Death Company, partly to represent the deformed Raven Guard Corax created by trying to rebuild his Legion far too quickly, but mostly to provide a shield for Dante.  Oh, and they could Rend.  Nowadays they use a FoC slot, are Non-Scoring Troops, and don't Rend.  And have Rage to contend with.  Let's drop them like a stone - a stone on fire, and coated with acid.  (ie - very fast indeed!)

We only have the 6 Meltaguns at the moment, so let's look for a bit more, but primarily a bit extra survivability, by taking Sanguiniary priests.

A Priest with JP & Infernus Pistol is 90 points, nearly as much as Corby was! (and remains, he is only 5 points more now, with a S5 Rending Chainsword!)  This makes Corby a much more competitive choice...but I'm not playing BA, so again, I skip a SC in favour of fluff.  What a loser I must be! ;)

Maybe the extra Melta could be grabbed in a different place...maybe it's more cost effective to get a Power Sword?  Or a Hand Flamer?  Well, said PW costs the same as an IP, and replaces a 6" Melta shot with Ignores Saves...fair trade? Maybe..but the sheer number of attacks I am likely to put out (and Furious Charge) means that I fear very little in Close Combat that doesn't have an Invulnerable anyway.  A Hand Flamer then? Well, I save 5 points...but the HF seems more like a novelty than anything else to be honest.  Don't get me wrong, I missed nothing from 2nd more when 3rd came out, and the rules adequately represent my idea of how it is inferior and more portable...but S3? It's literally a Template Lasgun.  I hardly think that justifies the cost on a model that hits over 33% of the time when shooting anyway.  Of ocurse, I figure Plasma Pistols are horribly overcosted too.  Ten points might be okay for them.  5 points might be too little.  The current cost? No chance GW, sharpen up.  Give CSM 10 point Plasma Pistols, or give it to DA, whichever gets redone first - and see the difference.  Or, make them 5 points, but S5 AP3.  That works for me.

Anyway, I don't think I can justify a Hand Flamer to myself - at least not on a Sang Priest.
Fists are out, because of cost (and IC status) and PWs seem to require Melta IP it is.  Leaves me:

Sang Priests:
Sang Priest; w/ Jump Pack, Infernus pistol - 90
Sang Priest; w/ Jump Pack, Infernus pistol - 90

Another 180 gone, leaving us with 1005 (845 spent) left in the bank.  Time to add some reliable anti-Infantry fire?

In a regular SM list, the default FA choice is Land Speeders.  Usually HF/MM Speeders, but Typhoon are a good choice too - and Storms disappointingly common.  In theory, the idea of Scouting a Fistful of Scouts (with Fist) into an enemy Tank turn one is fine. Especially when the Storm has a HF or MM.  In practice, it isn't a Dedicated Transport, and is using 2 slots to do one unit's job.  It is fairly expensive for killing one thing, gives away 2KPs, (for those that care for such considerations), is fragile...and pretty much signs their death warrant being that close to the foe.  Oh, and they're Troops that you're throwing away there.  You can do a lot worse (Vanguard Vets/Thunderfire Cannon/Servitor Squads/Devastators anyone??) but even so.

In the pseudo-BA army I'm building, HF/MM Speeders are certainly an option.  They very much fit the ethos of the Raven Guard, are versatile, bring more anti-tank to the fray...but I don't know if I WANT them.  See, the BA Dex throws two new options at you.  Scouting Fast Predators, and Vanguard Vets.  Yes, yes, VV are in the SM Dex...but they aren't good there.  VV provide a threat vector not available to the rest of an all-Jumper force - they can DSA (Deep Strike Assault.)  This may not seem like that big a deal at first, and I can understand why.  If you're Deep Striking your army, you get to choose (largely) where and, in the case of BA, when, the army arrives.  You can mitigate enemy ability to shoot you to death by careful deployment, reduced Scatter, and hoping they spread out..oh wait.  A skilled opponent will keep his forces tight to minimise your ability to DS amongst him, and to isolate units.  He will also be able to focus fire on your most important/threatening units by doing so.  Of course, putting a bunch of Melta in his face reduces his ability to fight back...but realistically can only hurt vehicles.  Infantry are still an issue - and they often carry enough anti-Infantry weaponry of their own to make even those FnP guys start to hit the dirt.  Indeed, with just a bit of bad luck, and poor preparation your guys may well represent the fabled Domino Marines - that legendary Ultramarine Successor Chapter wiped out by a Tau Crisis Force in 23 minutes flat as their Drop Pods malfunctioned and opened up 100 metres above ground level.  No sooner did the Marines climb to their feet than they were mercilessly cut down by Plasma fire.  (NB - I just made that up.)

Point being - you need a way to cut down return fire, and preferably to spit the enemy up, or at least make them pay for being clumped.  While the Heavy Flamers on Speeders can certainly do the latter, they have only medium success at the former - it's rare a single or even pair of HFs wipes a unit out with a decent Armour Save/numerical advantage.  Even rarer if they're in a vehicle...:p

So, Vanguard.  They have the capacity to jump down from orbit, and emo-stomp their way into a squad when they get there.  Not shooting when you land is hardly a real price to pay.  Problem then becomes, how much do you tool them to compensate?  Do you make them good enough to smash face 1st round? Of course not.  If you do that then they will soon resemble Pincushiony Joe, Chapter Master of the Domino Marines (Burst Cannon fire) and the net gain is nil.  Do you put in the anti-tank weapons they need for duality?  It adds Role Redundancy, without spamming units...but my instinct says no.  You can't get Meltaguns, merely Infernus Pistols.  While IPs are fine weapons, they're not amazing a-t fire, and better to save the points and try to get that option elsewhere.  It's highly unlikely you will fail to get any supplementary units to crack open the metal box and allow the VV to get the charge in.  Hell, they have Kraks anyway.  Let's prepare though, by giving the Sarge a THammer, huh?

So, a squad of VV sets us back how much?

Vanguard Vets: w/ Jump Packs, 2 extra men, Serg TH and 2 Hand Flamers - 240

We added (we? I, surely...) the Hand Flamers for those occasions when we will actually survive a round of enemy shooting, or simply get another shot at them.  Sometimes we encounter Rangers or Scouts, and will be content to roasty toasty Princess, but other times we just want a cheap shot at multiple units afforded by sneaky Template positioning.  Also, I wanted to highlight that I think HaFs can work in VV, and maybe Honour Guard.  Note how the unit still comes out costing largely the same as the VAS in the last Codex.

However, if we were to take 3 of these squads, we'd quickly run out of shiny other stuff.  We already roughly equate to the number of bodies in the previous list (40 Power Armour guys, to an earlier 38 [+6 Attack Bikes...]) so everything we get now is bonus, right?

Let's take some Tanks then.  Wait, what???  Yeah, Tanks.  See, the BA get funky funky Baal Predators.  Baal Predators, as well as the Fast that goes with all BA Rhino Chassis, get the lovely shiny Scouts USR.  Scouts grants the capacity to deploy really close, and pray you get the initiative/don't lose the initiative...or it lets you go into Reserve, and Outflank.  Let's see - an army that arrives, fairly accurately, from Full Reserve, and needs more anti-Infantry punch.  So, we take two of these bad boys:

Corax Predator (Counts as Baal Predator) ; w/ Flamestorm Cannon, Dozer Blade. - 120

Note, I don't take Sponsons.  The role of these in the army is to punish the foe for attempting DS Defence, and race in amongst their disembarked Infantry killing MEQs with impunity.  In ways, this list has become very much a 'Mech Up or Die' army.  Assault Cannons would provide greater versatility - I simply prefer the image of the Flame Templates.  Being able to hunt Transports, especially Chimeras, would be very useful in the list.  When I eventually begin playtesting, I imagine AssCans will see more play.

So, 2 of those is 240.  Same as one more VV squad.  Hmmm, tasty.  So, 1005-240-240= 525.  This should roughly equate to 2 more ten-man units.   Okay, we have 3 FA, 1HQ, 1Elites, and 3 Troops.  Let's look at Heavy Support.  Briefly.  Vindicators, Predators, Whirlwinds...they have to deploy, or they're out.  Devvys and Dreads can take MMs, in Pods.  However, I feel Pods don't quite fit into the list.  Problem is, the Drop Pod Assault rule forces you to put stuff into play Turn One.  Since the bulk of the force can't come in until Turn 2 at the earliest, this isolates your forces for the opponent - giving them no choices to make re Target Priority, or even in movement.  It becomes a regular shooting gallery - your sitting ducks lined up just waiting to die.  Not ideal, by any means.

So, the only option viable is the StormRaven.  Well, it's not a terrible piece of kit, but if I were to use it in this list I'd really need two.  I'm wasting it slightly, because I'm not using the Transport Capacity, and it has to Deep Strike in the middle of the foe and even Ceramite Armour won't save it - it's AV12 after all.  Plus,  it can only fire two weapons when it Deep Strikes...hmmm.  It'd be okay, but let's not rely on it, huh? let's look for some other options - more bodies, perhaps?

How about a unit of Honour Guard?

Honour Guard; w/ Blood Champion, Jump Packs, 3 Storm Shields, 3 Meltaguns, 2 Melta Bombs. - 285

Hmmm.  Is that too much?  Perhaps.  At least it doesn't take up an FoC slot though.  We'll need another unit to take the heat of these guys a bit, and Sanguinary Guard look awesome! Let's have a squad, why not??

Sanguinary Guard; w/ 2 Infernus Pistols, Power Fist - 230

515 that comes to.  Hmmm.  Leaves us 10 points...May as well squeeze another Infernus Pistol into the Sang Guard.

So, the final product:

Captain; w/ Lightning Claw, Lightning Claw, Jump Pack, Melta Bombs. - 160
Honour Guard; w/ Blood Champion, Jump Packs, 3 Storm Shields, 3 Meltaguns, 2 Melta Bombs. - 285

Sang Priests:
Sang Priest; w/ Jump Pack, Infernus pistol - 90
Sang Priest; w/ Jump Pack, Infernus pistol - 90

Sanguinary Guard; w/ 3 Infernus Pistols, Power Fist - 245

10 Assault Marines: w/ 2x Meltagun, Power Fist - 235
10 Assault Marines: w/ 2x Meltagun, Power Fist - 235
10 Assault Marines: w/ 2x Meltagun, Power Fist - 235

Vanguard Vets: w/ Jump Packs, 2 extra men, Serg TH and 2 Hand Flamers - 240
Corax Predator (Counts as Baal Predator) ; w/ Flamestorm Cannon, Dozer Blade. - 120
Corax Predator (Counts as Baal Predator) ; w/ Flamestorm Cannon, Dozer Blade. - 120

TOTAL: 1850

We have 50 Bodies, FnP bubbles all over the show, 4 Templates, 13 Melta weapons, 5 Fists (4+a Hammer) and a pile of Power Weapons.  It's not exactly the best list you'll ever see from the BA Dex (and I may do a Codex Review, so if so, you'll see plenty more!) but it's not bad at all, IMO.

Well, S_B - is that worth 2 posts, or what? :p

Bear in mind my fragile ego, and the fact that took about 3 1/2 hours to do...yay for free time at Easter!
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