Thursday, 15 April 2010

The (F)Law of Averages...

Brent from Strictly Average has a dilemma.  He has a pile of plastic, and doesn't know quite how he wants to mould it.  Now, as anyone familiar with Brent knows, he will read this advice and cherrypick it, playtest extensively, and quite possibly end up with the exact same conclusion.  :p

Well, that's fine by me, not least because it allows me to continue to blithely deride BA Hybrid without ever finding time to playtest it...As has become the norm, my comments in BLUE.  His in pink, just for my own amusement.  *Shrug*

(Subtitled: Help a Brother Out!)

I've enjoyed reading all the recent Blood Angels blogs and comments, from Nick and King across the pond to Chumby and others here stateside.  I guess my problem is, I'm still pretty lost.
Yeah, mention! :D
So, help me out some folks.

Okay, this isn't a deadline sort of project.  I'm going to be taking my Daemons to BoLSCon - and is anyone interested in having a look at that list?  Point is, this isn't an army I have to make any hard decisions on, but I've got the itch to work on Marines so I might as well put that to good use.

That's probably for the best, as those little itches can be very irritating - and, for me, often interfere with my desire to play anything else.  I was amazed how much fun I was having playing Eldar yesterday despite having been incredibly bored with them when I put them away before that.

I purchased a huge Space Marines army from Evil Homer about a year ago, with the idea of sitting on it until the Codex's release.  Well, now EH is looking like Nostradamus, since the army is chock full of Assault Marines, Honor Guard, Vanguard, Attack Bikes, Baal Predators, and the like, while I've since added my own version of a 10-strong Death Company.  I've also got a number of Rhinos, Devastators, Terminators, and Dreadnoughts, so I can take this army in a number of different directions.

Mmm... maybe I should have just said, I've got a lot of shit.  Point is, I'm lost in all that plastic.  I attempted to build a 2000 point army today.  So, follow along with my train of thought, then maybe you could tell me where I went wrong, because I don't like it.

LOL.  I enjoy your rambling Brent, probably for the same reasons people enjoy the way I've been writing Army Lists - it's nice to see a train of though, not least because it makes us all feel a little less crazy to know that seemingly random connection was made by someone else, or just that other people think in the same way.

1)  Okay, I started with a Librarian, and everything is going to have a Jump Pack, so that's 125pts.  I don't see the need yet for two powers a turn, so let's save 50pts.

Absolutely.  Libbies are the most versatile of the options available, and have a fair amount of killiness, with great potential for synergistic combos.
2)  I want a hard-hitting assault element, so I'll take two Chaplains and two Sanguinary Priests, also both with Jump Packs.  I'm not going to upgrade either, so that's 125pts / Chaplain and 75 / Priest.  Ouch!  But I feel I need that element, the former for the torrenting of wounds I'll need to dish out and the latter for the survivability I'll need to get there then stay there.

Frankly, I'm not to fond of the Chaplain.  He has a role, sure...but I'm just not convinced he adds as much to the list as any of the alternatives - even if him being an Elites is a nice boost.  Priests are excellent, ofc.
3)  Okay, let's take two Assault Squads, each with dual Melta Guns and a Sgt. with a Powerfist.  I'm aware of the Infernus Pistol, but until I've playtested this Codex, I'll stick with what I know and save points where I can.  Okay thats... 235pts each.  Mmm....

They are a little pricey, but these Troops pack a punch the likes of Eldar can only dream of.  Zerks also have nothing on these guys.
4)  I've got two Baal Predators - let's use 'em!  Okay, I want them to act as a mobile element, blocking LoS as needed, so no sponsons.  That also saves points.  Yup - I'm smart I am!  Okay... maybe I got that idea by listening to TKE, Chumby, and JWolf discuss the issue elsewhere, but I'll pretend I knew wtf they were talking about...

Hah! I've already posted a JP list with Baal support (here), but I placed that list firmly in the 'semi-competitive' bracket by using a Captain.  Sang Guard also were a less than optimal choice, and the Honour Guard had silly amounts of stuff.  Overall, this seems to be similar to what you're gunning for so far, however.
5)  I've got some Melta Gun goodness in my Assault Squads, but I've got to be able to knock out Mech if I want to play with the big boys.  Let's take 3 Attack Bikes with Multi-Melta and two Dreadnoughts with the same plus a Heavy Flamer.  That's 150pts for the Bikes and 115pts / Dread, for a total of 380pts.

If those Dreads don't Pod in, then they will be unlikely to reach the foe.  If they DO, then they arrive before the Assault Marines and get curbstomped.  If you deploy the Assault Marines, this is mitigated - but then you have a-i fire to contend with, irrespective of FnP.  It's a tricky issue, and one I can't definitively answer, nor, I believe, can anyone but yourself.  As for Attack Bikes, why not Speeders? Well, you were saving points for DC - but even so.  Assault Marines can assault the shit out of things, but the simple fact is that without Flamers Horde Control can still prove an issue.  Of course, you plan to use 2 Baals, so it depends on their loadout too.  Personally, I think the Flamestorm is a better gun - but not exactly a better option.  I think it depends on how much accurate Melta and how many Autocannon-esque shots you can muster...taking the AssCan for utility isn't a bad plan, by any means.

6)  Did I save enough?  Yes!  Let's take 9 Death Company with Jump Packs, Bolters, and two Thunder Hammers for a total of... that can't be right... let me re-add that.  Okay, 375pts.  Man, they're expensive!  Okay, I'm aware it's going to be controversial for me to advocate for the humble Bolter, giving up an attack each close combat phase, but I don't think it's a bad trade-off.  Relentless let's me lay down the pain at 24-inches while I'm closing the distance, or alternatively take some shots when I'm just not close enough for the assault.  I think it's a good deal - and for the record, not an issue I've seen discussed anywhere, so I'm either right or wrong on my own on this one.  Man, that's an expensive squad.

While Relentless initially looks a good prospect for DC, they have to make the choice between 2 of the 3 weapons, and the bolter, ofc, prevents them from gaining the extra Attack of 2x CCWs.  While this wouldn't really be so much of a big deal if they still had Rending...they sadly don't.  In this case, then I can see no purpose to Bolters outside of a Rhino DC unit - and even then it's a bit iffy.  Of course, an all-Foot army could make some use of them, interestingly - but that belongs to a different Blog Post.  ;)
Relentless allows them to lay down some significant anti-Infantry power on the move - but without Heavy Weapons it's not that big a deal, really.  Red Herring, I say.  Especially since Rage'd Jump Packs should be okay at catching anything a Bolter can hurt.

7)  Okay, problem.  I've got only two Troops choices at 2000pts and only two vehicles, both of which isn't a good thing.  Let's try to solve this.  First, the Blaal Predators are going to be vulnerable to shots from the side, 'cause that's how I'd do it.  We need a screen... can I kill two Gargoyles with one stone?  Let's drop one of the Assault Squads.  Consider, I've got two Chapies and two Priesties... with two Assault Squads and a Death Company, which is the odd squad out?  That's not a huge concern, given that I would have used Combat Squads to divide one of the Assault Squads, but let's try something different.  How about two, 5-man Assault Squads sans Jump Packs, using the 35pt discount to hop in a Razorback?  That's 120pts, so just a bit more than half the cost of the Assault Squad, so two of those doesn't break the bank.  Further, we can run those on each flank of our mech line, protecting the vulnerable side armor of the Baal Preds.

They will protest the flank for precisely one turn.  While, conceivably, this is sufficient to deliver your payload, not having a Priest for these guys makes them supremely vulnerable to small-arms (compared to the rest, anyway) and, for instance, a canny Lash player could crack the Transport and put these Foot Marines in the path of your vehicles so you cannot get around easily.  You don't know Fear, but you know Pinning all right.  Not a  very serious risk, but a potential achilles heel in the list - fragile Troops are painful to use (DAVU, ftw!)  Also, as mentioned before me, the Priest adds less to DC than other units.  Just because GW advocates it to pass FnP to the Chappy (:p) doesn't make it solid.

Let's add all that up:
Chaplain x 2
Sanguinary Priest x2
Assault Squad, 10-man
Death Company
Assault Squad, 5-man, in Razorback x2
Baal Predators x2
Attack Bike Squad, 3-man
Dreadnoughts x2

1980... so 20pts left over is a Melta Gun per mini-Assault Squad, bringing us up to 2000pts.

There!  I'm so cool!

It isn't terrible.  But it's not awesome either.   

Problem is, I'm pretty sure it sucks.  Of the 4 tanks, only two have decent armor going for them, and while the Dreadnoughts should draw some of that fire it doesn't seem like much mech.  In addition, even with three choices from the troops selection, it feels vulnerable in objective missions.  As anyone who uses Attack Bikes knows, these draw fire quick; there is no guarantee they can get into position quickly enough to make good use of their firepower.  In short, the list seems scattered.
For me, the main problems with Attack Bikes vs Speeders are this:

1) Inability to leap terrain
2) Easier to ID, even though AV10 is hardly durable.
3) No Heavy Flamer option.  30 point Heavy Flamer bikes (since they're slightly too expensive as is) would be kick ass.
4) Easily torrented down by Bolter fire, as opposed to 'potentially' so.
5) Deff Rollas kick the crap out of them, whereas Speeders get a dodge save.

I also agree that the Dreads just don't 'feel' Mech enough, and that the Troops may well struggle for objectives.

Am I being too hard on myself?  
Yes, a bit.  Maybe; certainly, the Death Company and Assault Squad will take a lot of killing, but I'm not sure it has the goods to stand up to the big boys... the tough and optimized lists.  It's not going to be a walk-over, but you aren't making things easier for yourself, not really.

So where do I go from here?  Well, I've been asking around, so I expect others (who are better than I at Listhammer) will have opinions I can (steal) access.  For example, I just saw the email from Fritz regarding Infantry-only Blood Angels - and that idea was going to be my next port of call.

Thoughts?  Opinions?  Insults?  
Insults? Never...;)

Okay, let's take what we had in the list that I liked:

Librarian; w/ Jump Pack - 125

Sanguinary Priest; w/ Jump Pack - 75
Sanguinary Priest; w/ Jump Pack - 75

Assault Squad; w/ 2 Meltaguns, Power Fist - 235
Assault Squad; w/ 2 Meltaguns, Power Fist - 235

Baal Predator; w/ ??? - 115
Baal Predator; w/ ??? - 115

Well...that's not a lot, so far.  You want DC, so we'll muster up some DC.

Death Company; w/ Rhino [Dozer Blade], +7 men, 2 Power Fists, 1 Power Weapon - 320

This allows access to 2 of these:

Death Company Dreadnought; w/ Blood Talons, Searchlight, Drop Pod - 171

If we take them, we are forced into a full smorgasbord of Hybridization.  If we do not, then what purpose do the DC serve? They aren't actually more killy than the RAS Marines, not per point.  Can we justify running them purely for fluff?  Not competitively we can't.  A unit that cost 300+ points MUST be great at it's role - the DC aren't that good.

What's more, those additions take the list to (171+171) + (320) + (230) + (275) + (470) = 1637, with no ranged power, and just 3 Chassis.  Oh, and we still need another Pod.  :(  BA aren't cheap.  What can drop in a Pod, can't get JPs (which are better with DoA) and has enough Melta to do the job??  oh right, Sternguard.

7 Sternguard; w/ 5 Combi-Meltas, 2 Heavy Flamers, Drop Pod - 255

Well, the list now is looking pretty full up, at 1892.  108 remain to make this ducking work.  A solo Dakka Pred?

See now the issue has become the DC, in a big way.  I think that's clear enough thus far, and have more thought...but I kinda want feedback before continuing.  :)
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