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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Foreword and Introduction

In this thread, cold, hard math and facts reign supreme. Opinions, feelings, emotions, fluff, and accusations of taking the fun out of the game (aka "cheese") have no place here, so leave those kinds of things at the door (please turn your sarcasm detectors on). The intent and purpose of this article is to give players a better understanding of what makes any given army list effective and competitive.

In an ideal setting, you and your opponent would have perfectly evenly-matched forces and luck would not play a role. Only sound strategies, tactics, and decisions would lead you to victory. This is not the case in Warhammer 40k.

During a competitive game, there are many important things that you simply do not have control over. A referee/moderator will have chosen how much and what kind of terrain you are going to play with. Although you can roughly predict the outcome of dice rolls with averages and so forth, in the end they are still random. You also do not have any control over your opponent's list, and enemy action will change how you play and affect the decisions you make in-game.

But, there is one element that you have complete control over before the game even starts, and that is your own army list. Any given army list has several innate values associated with it. These values include the amount of damage that the list can put out in one turn (such as how many enemy transports it can reliably disable), how much damage it can recieve, what its average effective range is, how far it can move its troops, et cetera. What we are trying to do is maximize these to give ourselves quite a significant edge during the game.

To illustrate how to do this, I will go through my own thought process when I created my current army list. I play Imperial Guard, and they are a very straight-forward and easy to understand army. I play 2500pt games all the time, and that is the points value of the 'Ard Boyz national tournament, which many hold to be the golden standard of competitive wargaming.

The Core of the List

The strongest part of a properly built list is its core. This includes, but is not limited to, the compulsory 1 HQ and 2 Troops. In recent times, the most competitive types of lists have been of the well-rounded "take all comers" flavor, being able to effectively handle any threat thrown at it. So, let us begin. The best place to start is with your compulsory force, because you MUST take them. This can usually be done in under 500 points. You want these 3 units to be able to work together and support each other.

HQ:
CCS - 4x plasma guns 110
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Troops:
Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

This is a very strong compulsory force for 475 points, and a great start for a larger list. It can handle both light and heavy vehicles, monstrous creatures, TEQs, MEQs, hordes, and has good mobility to capture objectives. Now, before we continue to build up our core, we must consider something called redundancy. From a list-building perspective, this means taking multiples of the same unit to help ensure that these units' tasks are completed, if, for instance, one of them gets destroyed, tied up in close combat, or is otherwise unable to do what it was supposed to. So, with that in mind, lets add a little bit of this redundancy:

HQ:
CCS - 4x plasma guns 110
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Troops:
Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

We are starting to kick out some serious killing power while still maintaining our ability to capture objectives. These units would travel together on the battlefield to provide overlapping fire zones (or charge zones in the case of a close combat-oriented list). What this basically does, is create a "bubble" around your units. In this case, this bubble would have a 36 inch radius from the Chimeras. Any enemy unit that is inside this radius is in danger, and the closer they get, the more dire their situation becomes. Once they are within 12 inches, they are in serious danger of being obliterated by concentrated high strength, low AP weapons.

This 12-inch bubble is our range of maximum effect. We can cause the most damage when the enemy is within one foot. 12 inches is indeed quite close-ranged, though, which is the weakness of our core. We need something with great range to force our enemies to close in, which is where our auxiliary units come in.

Auxiliary Units

These units usually fall under the Elites, Fast Attack, and Heavy Support categories. They are taken to help the core of the list accomplish its goals, whether it be taking objectives, drawing fire away from them, or causing raw damage. Redundancy is still as important as ever. There are very few instances where taking just one of something is a good idea, as it will usually get focus fired and destroyed. We know that our core right now is very strong, but short ranged, so we need to add something with good reach and killing power:

HQ:
CCS - 4x plasma guns, Astropath 140
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Troops:
Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Infantry Platoon
Command Squad - 4x flamers 50
Heavy Weapon Team -
autocannons 75
Heavy Weapon Team -
autocannons 75
Infantry Squad - 50
Infantry Squad - 50
Infantry Squad - 50


Fast Attack:
Vendetta - 130
Vendetta - 130
Vendetta - 130

Now we have a long-range, high strength, low AP punch with great mobility and accuracy. An infantry platoon was added to increase the list's scoring ability even more and add some more bodies and autocannon saturation. Now our long ranged firepower can also score and/or drop off their squads to rapid fire enemy squads that might be sitting on their target objective. In a pinch, the naked Infantry Squads can also be used to bubble wrap any of the vehicles against assault threats. They are just simply a bunch of cheap scoring meatshields and are to be used as sacrifices without hesitation. We now have all of our niches filled except one; extreme resilience. We need something that can really take a licking and keep on ticking. That is where our heavy support choices come into play. They also just happen to pack some devastating weapons:

HQ:
CCS - 4x plasma guns, Astropath 140
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Troops:
Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Infantry Platoon
Command Squad -
4x flamers 50
Heavy Weapon Team -
autocannons 75
Heavy Weapon Team -
autocannons 75
Infantry Squad - 50
Infantry Squad - 50
Infantry Squad - 50


Fast Attack:
Vendetta - 130
Vendetta - 130
Vendetta - 130

Heavy Support:
Demolisher Squadron x2 - hull lascannons 360
Demolisher Squadron x2 - hull lascannons 360

All that is left is to fill in the niches with more units that do the same job. The Demolishers that were added are short-ranged and like to shoot at hard targets, so let's add something with long range that likes to shoot at softer targets.

HQ:
CCS - 4x plasma guns, Astropath 140
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Troops:
Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Veteran Squad - 3x melta guns 100
Chimera - ML/HF 55

Infantry Platoon
Command Squad -
4x flamers 50
Heavy Weapon Team -
autocannons 75
Heavy Weapon Team -
autocannons 75
Infantry Squad - 50
Infantry Squad - 50
Infantry Squad - 50


Fast Attack:
Vendetta - 130
Vendetta - 130
Vendetta - 130

Heavy Support:
Hydra Squadron x3 - hull heavy bolters 225
Demolisher Squadron x2 - hull lascannons 360
Demolisher Squadron x2 - hull lascannons 360

With the addition of the Hydras and Demolishers, we have a list with overwhelming, overlapping fire zones. An enemy caught in the open has no chance against this kind of firepower, and an enemy cowering in cover will be advanced upon and crushed. There is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide from this list! Great job!

I would like to conclude by pointing out something very important. In many of the lists that I see posted here, there are people still trying to gear out their units to take on multiple types of targets. While this can work, it is not the most efficient way to make your army versatile. Instead of giving each individual unit a mix of weapons to handle anything (for instance, a Veteran squad with a flamer, plasma gun, and melta gun) specialize them to do only one or two things very well. If you specialize everything, you waste nothing. Instead of having an army made of "jacks of all trades, masters of none", try to shoot for an army made up of units that are masters of one trade, effectively making your army as a whole a master of all trades.
 

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This is a very nice post! I like how you focused on the core of the army (troops and compulsory HQ) as the starting point to build the rest of the list around. With 5th edition rules, I've found that this is incredibly important. I also like how you demonstrated list building directly in the tactica, with the Imperial Guard list.

The only thing I can add is that I feel you don't necessarily have to have multiples of each unit in each list (the redundancy issue you mentioned) if more than one type of unit performs the same function, or the unit is particularly resilient, or the unit if very expensive.

For example, in an Imperial Guard army list with multiple platoons that combine into one unit of 30-50, you don't need multiple units of 30-50, as the one is just fine. Also, in an Ork list, you don't need multiple units of meganobz, as they aren't the only close combat focused units in the list. Finally, in a 1500 point space marine list I wouldn't use more than one land raider, simply because of their point cost. Regardless, it's still a nice addition to many lists.

Redundancy, especially in highly specialized and/or vulnerable units is indeed important, but I wouldn't consider it compulsory for all units.

Besides that small issue, I think the tactica is very impressive, especially considering how relatively concise it is. Great job!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Yes you are correct. There are a few units that are extremely resilient and/or expensive that don't need to be taken more than once. The example list in this tactica was for 2500 points, so it wasn't much of an issue, but the lower the points go, the harder it is to include redundancy for everything.

EDIT: I found one other important thing that I forgot to mention in the original post. I have edited it in at the bottom.
 

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This may sound like complaining but some of what you are saying doesn't seem realistic with different armies. Eldar struggle to get much redundancy, it is rare to be able to afford more than 1 CC or tank hunting unit and often times 2-3 useful troops is the limit . Any chance you could put a couple of lists from different codex to show the same thinking with different style armies? As it is I almost feel this is the strength of the IG codex making your point.
 

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With Eldar, I find that's only really true with the fire dragons, wraithguard, and seer council. Everything else really worth taking is worth taking multiples of. With these three units, it just usually comes down to points, as there's often simply not enough points to add both to the unit, since they really need wave serpents or fire prisms (or in the seer council's instance, bikes) in order to be effective.

In any case, all these units are usually, in some way, similar to other units in the list, so the trick isn't so much redundancy for specific units, but redundancy for specific types of units. As long as you have multiple units that are capable of dealing with each type of opponent, you should be fine.
 

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great write up, looks very well thought out and list you did with to 'show' your idea is brilliant.
i have to say that list does look quite intimidating, but dont you have to take the grenadier thing to allow your veterans to be troops? (sorry not a guard player, please forgive me if im wrong)
also i would like to see you do an army list for the more specialised armies like tau, eldar, necrons etc, at the 1500-2500pt level, preferably tau.
once again great write up and have sum rep!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thanks for the comments and reps. A few of you have asked for a list for a different army, so I will work on one and edit it into this post later.
dont you have to take the grenadier thing to allow your veterans to be troops?
No, Veterans are a troop choice already. Grenadiers gives them a 4+ armor save instead of 5+
 

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I like this list quite a bit, but am noticing something (at least in Army builder 3.2a)

By outfitting the HQ with 4 plasma guns, you remove the potential for a VOX equipped soldier.

It also seems you have not attached VOX radio options to the veteran units.

While I am new'ish to IG... aren't orders and the VOX re-roll pretty darned important?

Thanks for your thoughts on this,
~R
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
A vox network can be useful to an infantry-based army that makes heavy use of orders, but it is pointless in a mechanized army because troops inside a transport cannot receive orders.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
My honest opinion is that voxes are a waste of points overall, especially since they are taken instead of a special weapon in the command squads. I, personally, would never take them, even in a pure infantry army. I would rather use the points elsewhere. My armies and tactics are not built around the use of orders. To me, they are kind of just an extra bonus for taking the command squads. I do use orders, but I don't invest points to make them slightly better.
 

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you missed out Platoons? They have a nice roll to play, while the infantry squads sit home and your PCS with meltas ( melta vets essentially ) cost less, i mean the PCS with mleta guns cost less than melta vets. The manditory infantry squads aren't a bad option either.
thanks
antique_nova
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Here is another 2500 pt competitive list for a different, more specialized army, Dark Eldar. As everyone knows, they are extremely vulnerable to shooting, but lightning fast and devastating in close combat, with some very powerful shooting of their own.

HQ:
Archon - punisher, tormentor helm, combat drugs, shadowfield, trophy rack 140
5x Incubi Retinue - plasma grenades 135
Raider - night shield, horrorfex 75

Dracon - punisher, tormentor helm, trophy rack 65
5x Incubi Retinue - plasma grenades 135
Raider - night shield, horrorfex 75

Elites:
8x Wyches - succubus w/ agoniser, wych weapons, plasma grenades, 2 blasters 150
Raider - night shield, horrorfex 75

8x Wyches - succubus w/ agoniser, wych weapons, plasma grenades, 2 blasters 150
Raider - night shield, horrorfex 75

8x Wyches - succubus w/ agoniser, wych weapons, plasma grenades, 2 blasters 150
Raider - night shield, horrorfex 75

Troops:
5x Warriors -
blaster, dark lance 55
Raider - night shield, horrorfex 75

5x Warriors - blaster, dark lance 55
Raider - night shield, horrorfex 75

5x Warriors - blaster, dark lance 55
Raider - night shield, horrorfex 75

5x Warriors - blaster, dark lance 55
Raider - night shield, horrorfex 75

5x Warriors - blaster, dark lance 55
Raider - night shield, horrorfex 75

5x Warriors - blaster, dark lance 55
Raider - night shield, horrorfex 75

Heavy Support:
Ravager - 3x disintegrators, night shield 140
Ravager - 3x disintegrators, night shield 140
Ravager - 3x disintegrators, night shield 140

Total:
2500

This list can also cause massive pinning with the horrorfex spam against non-fearless armies (which is about 2/3 to 1/2 of armies). Psyker Battle Squad, eat your heart out. There are >>29<< BS4 STR8 AP2 Lance weapons, most with 36 inch range, so anti-armor/MC is definitely covered. The ravagers can easily cover anti-MEQ and TEQ, and there is not much in the game that the Wyches and HQ choices won't be able to shred in close combat, from big nasty enemy HQs to hordes. From the objective-claiming standpoint, it has amazing mobility by default. The troop choices are meant to zoom to nearby objectives, sit on them, and blast away with their Dark Lance spam. The Wyches and HQ will high-tail it into enemy territory to assault and contest. I think it has pretty much every base covered, except for one. Dark Eldar don't really have any resilient units to absorb firepower, but every army has to have a weakness. (no, the Talos is not hard to take down)
 

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I Sincerely Want a Parrot
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Those are two very nice looking lists, but this post doesn't help me understand the "The Art of List-Hammer". All I get from this is you need: redundancy, short-range, long-range, and the ability to kill multiple types of units, but all of these things go without saying when putting together a competitive army.

How can I apply List-Hammer across all of the 40K armies and their tabletop variations? This post leaves me unsatisfied...
 

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I Sincerely Want a Parrot
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I don't understand your question.
"Art" implies some form of technique and/or method. You illustrate this technique with Imperial Guard quite nicely, but what about the other armies, what about Drop-Pod Marines or Nidzilla? I only raise objection because this has been posted in the Tactica forum with a rather bold title claiming that you are an "Artist" of the general subject "List-Hammer".

A Tactica, by nature, is a general philosophy and List-Hammer entirely depends on unit selection. So, I guess what I'm saying is that, via the title, I was expecting a breakdown of List-Hammer viable units/figures/FOC balances for all armies in 40K, not just Chim-Melta Imperial Guard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I think you are reading too far into the title. I'm not about to write a list for every viable variation for every army. The point of the post, as said at the beginning, was to help people that wish to start playing competitively understand what makes a list competitive. I gave 2 example lists for very different armies. Sorry if you didn't get anything out of it, but I accomplished exactly what I set out to do.
 

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I can think of an army that can overcome all of these. Although you might think that you have 39 of these things.
And quality counts, ah yes it does.

But there are also lists that deal with numbers that can break onto these armies.
I guess what I say is in the end if you were locked in a war of attrition Numbers are quality.

(I'm just trying to build on whats been said already)

I have 5 or 6 lists of Orks, Nids, Guard that I play regularly with. Its not the fact of what you call cheese.
But in a different light other players have cheese to. Esp. with the Guard having an option of an all deep strike
vendetta list if you think about it carefully.

Personally I would rather have a nice even static 50-50 force with a sacrificial flank.

My orks work perfectly for that due to the main selection of ork boy squads amounting up to 50 models in a squad.

I could say I want to throw like three or four of these squads on the table and just rush the whych force.
But on second hand. Thats what the boyz got trukks for.

In the end if you honestly think about what your opponent is going to be running, you can have plenty of counters.

For example the melta core force is a good one, due to the fact that its mobile. If I were the opposing
guard playerI would bring in my artillary and my hellhounds to compete.

There is balance for everything. As what Sun Tzu said.

"If your enemy is close. strike from afar"
"If your enemy attacks at night, counter attack at dawn, so that the sun may shine in his eyes."

It might seem more complex than it really is but you can get the hang of it pretty quick.

P.S. IF YOU HAVE ANYMORE QUESTIONS, PM ME OR POST THEM HERE.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I can think of an army that can overcome all of these.
Please, show me. A lot of what you said didn't make much sense, please try to convey your thoughts more clearly. You can't have 50 boyz in a squad. You also can't think about what your enemy is going to take in his list in order to bring counter-units. This thread is designed to help players create take-all-comers lists for competitive play, where you can see any number of different army types coming at you.
 

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I can think of an army that can overcome all of these.

In the end if you honestly think about what your opponent is going to be running, you can have plenty of counters.

QUOTE]

every list can be beaten, especially if you design a list to defeat a certain army build. the trick is to build an army that has the same chance of beating a Mob army that it does a MC army.

very nice tactica, i loved how you built the army list while explaining why you included each unit. It really showed how to apply the tactica.
 
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