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I have been playing for only 10 months and I have Necrons, Daemons and Chaos Space Marines armies. I've played against Blood Angels, Orks, Necrons, Space Marines, Daemonhunters, Eldar, Tyranids, Imperial Guard and Space Wolves. It may just be me, but I find that there is sometimes a vast difference in the variety of builds each codex has. Take for example the Necrons; their codex has few units of all types and with the exception of the Lord, about the only wargear is the disruption fields. Now take the Imperial Guard who have many units and many builds for wargear. Sometimes I look at the Tyranid codex in amazement with all the cool things they get for a really low price. Some of the extra things they get boogle my mind. Let's take the Tyranid Deathleaper vs Daemon Skulltaker for 140 points: Skulltaker has the worst statline except the save and has the worst free wargear list as well. The Deathleaper has these really weird but cool rules attached to it that you just don't see in many codexes. If you compare a Warrior Brood Tyranid to a Beast of Nurgle or a Chaos Spawn, it's not even a close comparison in my view. The point is, I believe that variety is the spice of life and some codexes do not have much variety or the same variety as others. I also equate variety of builds as being fun and in doing so, I find the codexes with lousy builds aren't as fun to play. To me, in order for Games Workshop to level the play field, they need to make each codex with variety and unique variety. There needs some larger degrees of separation between Space Marine type armies too. Do you agree or are you ok with the current variety in codexes?
Not saying that deathleaper is worse as such, he's got a bunch of nice tricks. But if the two models were to ever end up base to base you'll most likely be short one deathleaper by the end of the turn. Different models with different jobs.
As far as build variety - it's just a problem with the very old books with gradual codex creep and rules/units that were never designed for the current game. Necrons and inquisition, and templars to a degree (a half page pdf update giving them squad vets and restoring zeal would see a few more on the table)
If you put the old and new DE codex side by side you'll see some of the changes from 3rd ed mentality to 5th ed. More troops choices, more special characters, USRs all over the place, and changes in restrictions for things like transport access and special weapons (the trueborn being a good example, under 3rd ed pricing they would have paid more for their weapons because they could carry more).
Not all buffs of course, dark lances on troops brought in line with the newer eldar codex and some of the old armour choices (like an archon stealing a wych's bike) are gone.
I do agree that variety is the spice of life and you can some real fun with a variety of different units available. I'm an eldar player and recently found that my lists had become very...stale. While the lists in them selves are effective I found that they weren't as fun as they used to be so lately Ive been building themed lists and have been having a lot of fun doing so.
I'm a new player myself this also being my 10th month of playing and have found that certain codexs out of date as it were. The Necrons have only had one codex release while the likes of the Eldar have had either 4 or 5. Just reading the Necron codex you read rules that no longer apply or that I've even heard of and I had read a couple of editions of the rules showing just how out of date these codexs are and of course when Codexs get new editions the points cost of certain units change as well so units from older codexs will more likely be more expensive than current ones (More than likely) meaning that units from different codexs that are similar in points but because of the out dated codex will meant there will be a difference in preformance.
I have considered to start collecting Necrons but I will definately wait for them to get a new codex before I do decide to start collecting.
I have some Necrons; some of which were given to me as OOP models. I resolved a long time ago that I was not going to buy any more Necrons until GW fixes the codex and gives us more variety. I mean your armies wargear (except Lord) is Disruption fields? I think it was lame back in the middle ages when the codex was made! One troop choice and 13 total units to choose from, no wonder Necrons was a bit of a flop for GW! In this case, failure was a self fulfilling prophecy! And now, they say that GW isn't releasing the Necron codex next, we get yet another Space marine spin off in the Grey Knights. To me, it's a kick in the stones as a Necron player.
I took another look at the Deathleaper vs Skulltaker and while Skulltaker does have instant death on 4+ which is big (I know, I'm a Daemon player), the BIG problem with Skulltaker is getting him into combat! He can't shoot for all of his 140 points, so all he is good for is combat. But I find that people recognize Skulltaker's threat in combat and tend just to shoot him up. He only has two wounds for pity sake. So I stand by what I say, Deathleaper vs Skulltaker vanilla, I take Deathleaper every time and variety of abilities win the day.
To add to my original post, I see the Guard as the prime example of ultimate variety; you can literally take units and wargear for every other unit you would face in the game. Because you can tailor your army so precisely and with an excellent variety of powerful builds, the Guard is very potent. To me, this is where the Daemons fall a bit flat. You have variety of units, don't get me wrong, but the gifts fall a bit short for my liking. With Daemons, you pick one specific unit to do one specific job: Pink Horrors to shoot, Bloodletters & Daemonettes to fight, Plaquebearers to hold objectives, Soul Grinder for ordinance weapon. They have fewer units that multitask and you need to pay for them somewhat dearly in my view. I want variety damn it!
Skulltaker getting shot at more because he's more dangerous in combat isn't a mark against him.
Anyway - i'm not entirely sure what you 'want' from an army - you seem to prefer nids to daemons while criticising daemons for the same 'unit for job' structure the nid list has. You also state that guard are great at cherry picking units to use against specific enemies while bemoaning a lack of generalist multitaskers.
I'd suggest spacewolves but you don't seem to like marines.
Not many armys can have a full squad of melta weapons for example. (Chaos space marines can but only if you take a 5 man squad of the Chosen Chaos Marines as they can have 5 meltas in that squad.)
You just need to make sure you have the right unit at the right place at the right time. That can be said for any army but when you have specialists squads it is especially so because you have to pick their battles, no point in getting a shooting squad in a CC fight and vice-versa.
I subscribe to the view that every codex is competitive. It's just that the newer codices have 4-5 good builds, while some of the oldest have just one. It's a variety thing more than it is a competitive thing.
Unless you're playing in a comped environment, where all of the older books get screwed over by TOs who think they're game designers. Making people take troops in preference to everything else really hurts Necrons and Tau, for instance. While any 5th Edition codex can take troops that are actually effective on the table. Making the restrictions largely meaningless.
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I think what you need to realise is that some armies (daemon, eldar, etc) are DESIGNED to have specialist units, while others (Marines, IG) are designed to be versatile. This is taken into account with different point values, and the difficulty in mastering an army.
Also, an older codex was designed for a game that just isn't played any more. They've all still got a good build or two, but most of their options have been invalidated by changes in rules.