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  1. #1
    LO's Resident Time Lord Canew's Avatar
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    Are ISTs making a comeback?

    Hi all:

    I am, frankly, buried under other projects, but some time back I was considering a DH list with ISTs in it (for the uninitiated, IST = Inquisitorial Storm Troopers), including some converted plastic ISTs (potentially), but I gave up on the list since post after post here indicated ISTs are so difficult to use that you'd be better off not bothering.

    Recently, however, I've heard people talking here about using them like they have more value than I've been giving them credit for. Is this true? Should I bother including them, when/if I ever start painting up my smattering of GK models? How do you take them? I always thought it would be neat to toss a group of them with two meltaguns into a Chimera with dual heavy flamers. Great for blowing up and cooking a transport full of squishy enemy troops. What do you guys think?

    Or, if you think they're a waste of points, that's ok too. Either way, tell me why you think that. I won't make this a poll, since I'm sick of looking at those, but I just thought I'd throw this out for discussion.

    One more thing: I know this isn't the WH forum, but those of you who play sisters, I'd like your opinions, too!

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  3. #2
    I am a free man! number6's Avatar
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    I never favored ISTs because I liked GKs too much, not because they weren't useful.

    But now 5th edition has rendered my pure GK army relatively uncompetitive. It's great vs some armies and absolutely terrible vs others.

    The 5th edition rules set has seriously shifted the game in favor of mech. Mech was always a pretty strong build, but it wasn't so significantly so in 4th edition that you could play pure GK -- footslogger or anchored by land raiders -- and eke out consistent wins through superior tactical play. That is just no longer the case.

    If you don't believe me, just compare the 4e and 5e vehicular damage charts. Now tack on the inclusion of cover saves in 5e.

    Conclusion: If you are serious about being competitive, you must play mech. And GKs, try as they might, simply cannot do it on their own.

    Firstly, they have no transport capability. All they have are land raiders, but they can't get any dedicated to their own use. The shrouding does help, but it's almost useless when an opponent with 5 Chimeras or 4 Wave Serpents or 6 (DE) Raiders or deep-striking dreadnoughts and speeders or (whatever) can just get in your face. So if you want to stay safe, you need a transport if for no other reason than to force your opponent to dismount you first if he wants to hurt you. Having that mobility yourself is also quite helpful, of course, so you can do the same thing to your opponent.

    But that leads to the 2nd problem: de-meching your opponent. GKs cannot do this, period. Assault you say? Well, GKs do it well, but opponents I face aren't nice to me and keeping their armour still so I can hit them easily. NFWs are FAIL for this purpose. You need meltas. GKs don't have them, but ISTs do. ISTs also come with rides. Ergo, ISTs are the most important unit in the DH codex these days. Every DH list must be build with at least two ISTs melta units in Rhinos. Rhinos are preferable to Chimeras because they're cheaper and they're faster. They're faster because you're not constrained by trying to shoot those expensive guns you would have paid for had you foolishly taken the Chimera instead.

    "Lascannons" you say? I say you can't get enough of them to matter anymore. Take another look at those 4e and 5e damage charts. Glancing hits suck in 5e. Lascannons are not dependable enough. They don't have the high rate of fire of, say, autocannons to help pop light transports and tanks, and they're not strong enough to reliably pop mainline battle tanks with AV 13 or AV 14. AP 1 is everything, and you also need raw potency to reliably punch high AV. So it's meltas, meltas, meltas. Everything else is suboptimal.

    You mentioned using ISTs and Chimeras to roast infantry. Well, this is where GKs can continue to play role. They are 40Ks best anti-infantry units, bar none. Take a pair of GKT units in LRCs (it's got that multi-melta! not to mention as much anti-infantry firepower as an entire PAGK unit) and you've got your anti-infantry taken care of. You also get 40Ks best hammer unit in the bargain.

    ISTs with meltas in Rhinos + GKTs in LRCs = awesome sauce

    After that, you can tailor your list more closely. Inducted IG platoons kick ass these days. So do a limited number of PAGK units with psycannons. Stick on a home objective deep into your deployment zone and who will scrape them off? They can't be seen, they're in cover, and you've got ISTs and your GKT hammers threatening everything else. Or perhaps stick them in your inducted IG Chimeras. Your IG will bring autocannons and yes, even lascannons (they're cheap for the IG), and your 5 PAGKs with 2 psycannons can all shoot out the top hatch of the Chimera for 9 S9 shots and 6 S4 shots. Ouch! Put a heavy flamer on that hull and dare anybody to come close. It's not like many people want to tangle with angry GKs after their Chimera gets popped ... or get roasted by a heavy flamer for daring to try it.

    If you take IG, just be sure not to dilute your melta take too much. Which means don't skimp on your ISTs. Ideally your opponents will allow you to take the IG units as specified in the 2009 'Ard Boyz FAQ so you can take IG vets as Troops. 3 meltas in a Chimera with heavy flamers? Yes, please!

    Finally, round out your meltas with an Inqusitor, a MM servitor, and 2-3 mystics, all in a Rhino or Chimera. Gives you a MM bunker in the midfield plus deep-striking defense to discourage folks from dropping in next to your LRCs (or perhaps your IG gunline).

    I put together a pure DH list recently that demonstrates these principles.
    Last edited by number6; August 20th, 2009 at 17:34.
    ninjabackhand: point and click, again, really? even after i give you an military term "shock tactic" you still call it point and click.
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  4. #3
    jy2
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    Honestly, I don't think IST's are really making a "comeback" because they've always been here. But with the advent of the new Imperial Guards, IST's are actually taking a back seat to the cheaper guardsmen with better transports (i.e. chimeras) and heavy weapon squads (specifically autocannon and lascannon squads for anti-tank).

    IST's have always been great for me. Until the new guards, they make an inexpensive complement to the very expensive grey knights. Their anti-tank is arguably more reliable if taken in pairs than dreads or LR's, and they tend to get ignored initially as opponents often focus on what they perceive as the "bigger threats". They can also be given relatively cheap plasmas for some decent anti-terminator/MC hunting. Just remember to put them in rhinos.

    For the GK purists out there, 2 LR's or LRC's is still the way to go in a competitive 1500 list, but if you're a little more accepting of other units, I highly recommend mechanized IST's. Just keep them small (5-man), mechanized (rhinos w/EA+smokes), and loaded with 2 special weapons (either meltas, plasmas or even flamers, but don't mix-n-match) and you're good to go.

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    Member MunDMC's Avatar
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    I've recently been experimenting at playing DH with inducted guard and guard with allied DH. I agree with all points of melta being king in 5th edition due to increased likelihood of penetrating hits, as well increased damage on the damage table.

    I must say, though, that given the above, the metagame has changed, and more players use mech lists. Using inducted guard with a lascannon team (i know, heresy) gives great coverage of your enemy's transports the first two turns of the game. For a modest point investment, you can have cheap troops to hold a "home" objective that still put heat on the enemy at range.

    Going back to your original question about IST's... if you're going to take them, play at least two 5 man squads in rhinos, 3 preferably. At 120 points a pop, your likely to do some serious damage to enemy heavy armor. Fight the urge to disembark from them though, as 4+ AP blast templates abound in recent codex's.

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    Senior Member LordTrebor's Avatar
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    Hmmm.... Access to two special weapons, a transport that can negate hits with it's codex creeped smoke launchers, and cheap to boot? Not to mention you can equip a vet sarge with a combi-weapon for another metlta/plasma shot? What's not to love about these guys?
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  7. #6
    LO's Resident Time Lord Canew's Avatar
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    As always, in-depth and insightful. Thanks much!

    Just one issue I'd like to clarify:

    Quote Originally Posted by number6 View Post
    Rhinos are preferable to Chimeras because they're cheaper and they're faster. They're faster because you're not constrained by trying to shoot those expensive guns you would have paid for had you foolishly taken the Chimera instead.
    I'm not sure I follow this. Yes, at "cruising speed" you can't fire the Chimera's guns, but no matter WHAT vehicle you take, you can't "pop the hatch" and fire meltaguns from the vehicle if it's moved at cruising speed either, right? So aren't you "constrained" no matter what vehicle you use?
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  8. #7
    I am a free man! number6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canew View Post
    I'm not sure I follow this. Yes, at "cruising speed" you can't fire the Chimera's guns, but no matter WHAT vehicle you take, you can't "pop the hatch" and fire meltaguns from the vehicle if it's moved at cruising speed either, right? So aren't you "constrained" no matter what vehicle you use?
    A Rhino is not a shooting vehicle. It is an infantry delivery vehicle and nothing else. A Chimera straddles the role of transport and light tank. This implies very different tactical playstyles with them.

    If you need to get meltas up to something, you need to be willing to run that tank full bore 12", dump out your guys, and shoot. The occasional sacrifice of some ISTs and/or their ride are going to be necessary. This is easier to stomach when we're talking about a lowly Rhino. It is much more serious if we're talking about a Chimera. We don't get to pay DH Rhino prices for our Chimeras like the IG do! And since the DH is an expensive army anyway, better to save the points, just take Rhinos, and just Get More Guns with the savings.
    ninjabackhand: point and click, again, really? even after i give you an military term "shock tactic" you still call it point and click.
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  9. #8
    LO's Resident Time Lord Canew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by number6 View Post
    If you need to get meltas up to something, you need to be willing to run that tank full bore 12", dump out your guys, and shoot.
    Ah, I see. Better to disembark and fire than just pop out of the top hatch to shoot. Fair enough.

    One more thing: I'm curious about the multi-melta servitor crew in your list, especially since you're putting it in a vehicle. Is it really that useful to you? I imagine it's a bit harder to make work for you than the IST-meltagunners.
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  10. #9
    I am a free man! number6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canew View Post
    Ah, I see. Better to disembark and fire than just pop out of the top hatch to shoot. Fair enough.
    It can be, yes. Normally you don't get out of your ride unless your opponent forces you to. But sometimes you just have to stop that land raider. Or at least make the attempt. Rhinos give you the freedom to do that in a way that Chimeras don't.
    Quote Originally Posted by Canew
    One more thing: I'm curious about the multi-melta servitor crew in your list, especially since you're putting it in a vehicle. Is it really that useful to you? I imagine it's a bit harder to make work for you than the IST-meltagunners.
    Multi-meltas have twice the range. They threaten enemy vehicles in a 24" radius. You use the vehicle -- Rhino or Chimera -- as a bunker. Race it to the midfield, pop smoke, and then in subsequent turns fire the MM out the top hatch at opportune targets. Or at the very least take ownership of a good chunk of the board. Flank it with your Rhinos and your LRCs, and who's gonna attempt popping your bunker in the face of the other threats? The mystics will keep people from deep striking nearby.

    Pretty darn awesome, I'd say.
    ninjabackhand: point and click, again, really? even after i give you an military term "shock tactic" you still call it point and click.
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  11. #10
    3 Getrudes Frank Fugger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jy2 View Post
    Honestly, I don't think IST's are really making a "comeback" because they've always been here.
    This. The advantages ISTs have over PAGKs have always been there; they're just far more pronounced in 5th Edition.

    What PAGKs do well is beating the snot out of infantry. In the case of MEQs they do this by forcing them to take lots and lots of saves with Stormbolter spam and WS5 Nemesis Force Weapons, whereas GEQs tend to just get cut down en masse. They're one of the best, if not THE best, scoring unit in 40K for killing infantry models. In 4th Edition, when vehicles were a liability as much as a threat and everyone was packing the board with little men, the Grey Knights shone. In 5th Edition the name of the game is maneuverability, firepower, and the ability to inflict damage whilst taking relatively little in return, and PAGKs fail at all three of those things.

    ISTs, on the other hand, are excellent at all three. They're not the best, but against most armies they're good enough. Dedicated transports with Smoke Launchers that are stuck in 3rd Edition are a good start, as are cheap-ass BS4 special weapons, and although they're not the hardiest of units they're so cheap and cheerful that they really don't need to be; their "resiliency", such as it is, comes from their expendability. You can throw a Rhino full of ISTs at a Land Raider carrying some TH/ SS Termies in the sure and certain knowledge that a) they'll damage the Raider, and b) they'll get destroyed by the Termies or any functional Raider weapons on the next turn. None of that matters because they're only ISTs; you've got another two squads roving around.


    As for the comment about ISTs taking a back seat to Guardsmen, I don't think they are. I think the way the wind is blowing in this Edition it's the PAGKs that are gradually being pushed into the background by the cheap and nasty Infantry Platoons. I know that's the case with my Inquisition armies. Even my Sisters squads, who you'd normally expect to be sacrosanct in a Sisters list, are being shelved in favour of cheap-and-nasty IST Melta-squads, HS Immolators, and mounted IG Platoons with Autocannons. For me, it's a question of practicality; the ISTs add more firepower and padding to my list than PAGKs do, and they're 60-odd points cheaper than the cheapest Sisters squad, meaning more Guardsmen, more S6+ firepower, and crucially more vehicles on the board.


    So... yeah. The ISTs are what they always have been; the cheap and nasty alternative that allows you to squeeze special weapons into a Daemonhunters' list and pad it out. However with the way the new Edition works, where you're not so much squeezing in Meltaguns to support your Grey Knights as you are forced to have them to stand any chance at all of winning a battle against a decent army list, the humble and oft-neglected Storm Trooper is actually far more of an asset than any number of PAGKs.

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