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Monday, June 28, 2010

BoLS's army rankings rebuttal (40k army analysis): Good armies


I know this has been done by Stelek already in his usual manner but I'm going to go over JWolf's army "rankings" in 40k (he listed the top 8 armies). I'm doing this for a number of reasons. Firstly, he's wrong with his analysis (less so the actual armies) but more importantly and rather than bitching, I want to show anyone who reads this and follows BoLS blindly or doesn't understand the competitive/tactical (thanks Kennedy :P) environment can see why he's wrong and what the "more correct" list might look like and WHY. Some of you will notice that my rankings are different from Stelek's but I think the best lists out there are really that close to each other in terms of competitiveness, they are that hard to seperate but the lists/books which aren't competitive/tactical, just roll over and die against properly organised lists. I'm also splitting the Marine books apart (unlike Stelek) because they are seperate and play differently. Whilst they run under the same joy of marine statlines and Rhino chassis', there are fundamental differences which make their best lists significantly different from each other. So remember, the actual rankings are for the most part subjective but there are certain books which just cannot compete and furthermore, the reasoning JWolf gave for some of the books is just backwards and will be properly fleshed out here.

Now we have that little disclaimer out of the way, here is JWolf's list of the top 8 armies:
  1. Imperial Guard
  2. Space Wolves
  3. Blood Angels
  4. Space Marines
  5. Chaos Space Marines
  6. Tyranids
  7. Eldar
  8. Witchunters
So on the face of things and other than Chaos, seems like a fair list though lacking two key competitive armies, Tau & Dark Eldar. Other than these oddities, the subjective nature of this list seems okay...but then we get into the reasons. So here is my list of competitive/tactical army rankings (will give a blanket statement for non-competitive armies) and referencing back to what JWolf said and why it's wrong (or if it was correct).

1. Imperial Guard

I've put IG over Tau for their flexibility. Whilst no psychic defense hurts them, they have the capacity to put down a lot of anti-infantry and anti-tank firepower akin to Tau but are more capable in adapting to getting screwed over on the battlefield. Whilst this can be argued either way (i.e. if you're good you won't get screwed over) I think the ability to be flexible in both army building and playing on the table is very important. Add in the ability to create good Hybrid and Pure Mech forces and the different army styles under those blanket statements puts these guys on top for me; I just never like to face a well put together Imperial Guard army list because I know it can take the sucker punch and still hand it back out.

Not too much needs to be jumped up and down on in JWolf's post though as Stelek pointed out, the mass blast weapons IG have at their disposal is generally a big enough discouragement to deep strikers and mystics only cover a certain area (+ they cannot be used anymore *sadface*).

2. Tau

Big gripe here against JWolf. Where are the Tau? Here's a in-depth look at how to play Tau and backlinks to appropriate army information. Whilst Tau can put out similar if not more firepower than Imperial Guard and have a much better defensive network, in the hands of the inexperienced Tau don't operate at all well. Whilst this is no excuse for dropping the top spot, as I mentioned above, Tau lack the ability to pick up the pieces if their battle-plan falls to pieces. When it works though, well no army can even consider Tau an easy fight.

3. Tyranids

The internet generally complains about the newest incarnation of Tyranids and blaim GW for trying to make money by selling new models (wait...aren't they a business?) and cry out for the old book which they think was more competitive. Uh...what? 5th ed Tyranids have the ability to completely shut down mech, walk up the field and munch whatever has fallen out. Then you have the completely different army using reserves through spores and special rules so all those monsters are in your face early. Asking any opponent to drop a minimum of 40 T6 wounds + the mass of Termagants produced by Tervigons @ 1750 is a tough ask. The ability to completely shut down mech and screw over anyone in combat gets these guys the number 3 spot. An unreliability against AV14 and losing in 36"+ ranged firefights hampers Tyranids but you'll find a good list run by a good player is a damn enjoyable game.

So, JWolf mentions all of this (and the lol of DoM) but ranks them at number 6 behind CSM. Don't know what more you could want? T-Fexes w/S10 AP1? Tervigons w/2+ saves? More ranged firepower? Any of these changes to "move them up the ladder" would see them as miles ahead of the other armies out there. Remember, I believe all of the competitive lists are really close to each other and whilst Tau & IG are stand-outs IMO, every army listed here is capable of dropping any other.

4. Space Wolves

The internet regards this book almost as broken as the IG book and believe it obsoletes the Vanilla book (we'll disabuse this again later). Of the three new Marine books I think SW comes out on top because of their ability to incorporate decent combat prowess into their mainstay Troops and have multiple mini-hammers whilst still maintaining an extremely balanced list in TWC. Outside of this you have excellent spammable transports in Razorbacks and Rhinos and balanced choices in all the FoC slots with very few "stupid" unit choices.

JWolf ranked these guys as number 2, which is certainly in line with the online opinion but can't be faulted too much. However, his reasoning... First off, I'd much rather charge SW than not because I'm getting my extra attacks and any bonuses (you know...Furious Charge?) which for armies like Tyranids and Blood Angels are very important. Also can't say I've seen a good SW list with combat monsters in every basic squad? You only get 4 HQ choices and if you're spending points on them to make them awesome in CC...well your army sucks. The "only" weakness of Ld8 is pretty bad as well. SM & BA can park themselves in midfield and demand you remove them and it's a lot easier against SW. Long Fangs also aren't exactly "invincible" but do provide excellent fire support & suppression. Raised eyebrows at Njal being unbalanced, especially considering he was FAQ'd for his first couple of powers to be useless if going 2nd. Otherwise he's just an extra special "anti-psyker" rune priest. Surprised no complaining was done about T5 Wolf Lords of death...

5. Eldar/DE

I did a Stelek and lumped these two together. With the changes in psychic powers across books, anti-psy is becoming more and more common which has slipped Eldar into a mono-build of mech which operates in a very similar manner to DE. Both armies now keep you at arm's length and use weight of fire (S6 or S8) and mech saturation to pummel you into oblivion. Out of the two I'd give Eldar the nod because of cheap blanket anti-psy but except DE to move right up the order when they get a new codex. DE also have scaling problems once you hit 2000 as their FoC outside of FA is filled up.


JWolf didn't put DE and when you consider their relatedness to Eldar in playstyle currently...well that's curious. If JWolf also believed in tournament results and Eldar seem to be winning, shouldn't they be top spot? Calling on logic there. Not sure what Avatars have to do with Eldar competitive/tacticalness seeing as they shouldn't be on the table in such a list but their mass of S6 firepower, AV12 fast mechness and RoWit are indeed reasons they are a good army. I also applaude JWolf for pointing out Banshees are useless. A couple of years late.

6. Space Marines

Vanilla marines are one of the best midfield armies in the game. If they stick 30 Rhino'd Marines in midfield backed up by all their other mech and firepower...well they are hard to dislodge. Backed up by the Psychic Power of the year in Null Zone and the raw awesomeness of pure bikers, TH/SS terminators and the original Riflemen Dreadnought. Ya, they rock. And in my eyes they're still 6th. What does that say about Tyranids, Tau and DE which are so dismissed?


I need only quote two words from the reason why JWolf thinks Space Marines are good. Marneus Calagar. Sorry but who uses Marneus Calagar in a good list? No one I know or have even heard of. Combat tactics is great though, good job. It's why Biker Marines work.

7. Blood Angels

Whilst BA arguably have the best army buffer in the game alongside the Tyranid Tervigon in FNP/FC bubbles, BA armies either rely on those bubbles quite a lot (i.e. Jumper & Blood Rodeo, etc.) or don't at all (i.e. Dread Drop & 6 Pred, etc.). I think BA also suffer from having "too" many toys and a lot of work has to go into developing an appropriately balanced list. BA pay for their improved speed and combat status and far too many people forget this and attempt to make BA simply Vanilla marines gone red. Again, this really shouldn't make them drop down on the rankings but since I believe all the armies are so close, if an army is harder to use and put together, it can be a disadvantage. The main reason for this drop though is the reliance on FNP/FC bubbles which can be removed.

JWolf has made the basic mistake of everyone else and has assumed Blood Angels are simply Space Marines+. I'm going to say this again. Space Wolves, Blood Angels and Vanilla Marines (as well include Black Templars and Dark Angels) are DIFFERENT. Now that we've got that out of the way...uh Sanguinor? Really? Death Company without Rending also aren't nearly as useful as before (and Beserkers are better...which isn't saying much) for their cost and if they are actually tooled out can be led around the nose due to Rage unless you want to pay for a Land Raider. Again, classic example of misunderstanding the codex.

8. Witchunters

Maximum meltaguns, flamers and heavy flamers with in-built mechness? What's not to love? With the removal of IG platoons the Immo spam army suffers from range issues but it is certainly capable of getting across the board, into your face and dominating whatever you throw at them.


JWolf was spot on with his IG platoon analysis which is sadly no longer available but incorrect in why it is useful (suppression fire, not anti-tank fire). Immolators in heavy support are also much better choices than Exorcists due to a variety of reasons fleshed out earlier in this blog (i.e. one gun, lack of synergy, lack of saturation up front, unreliability, etc.).

Summary
So these are my opinions on the top armies specifically without going into the mechanics of 40k. If you need that explained there are a lot of articles about these concepts elsewhere on the blog (or ask). This "lack" of mechanics is why the other armies including Orks, Daemons, Daemonhunters, Necrons and Chaos are less effective armies. An inability to have a balance of firepower with lists equally capable of anti-tank, suppression fire, mobility (& denial), anti-infantry, unreliance on super units/"gimmicks", balanced FoC choices, objective holding, defenses, etc. make these books just uncompetitive/tactical in 5th edition.

So let's hear your opinions. Again, I think the top armies really have very little to seperate them and although I believe Tau & IG are just that little bit ahead of everyone else, I think the order can be changed pretty drastically and still seem "right" as long as your reasoning is actually takes into consideration the books and the dynamics of 40k.

14 pinkments:

Ishamael said...

You're damned right Chaos does not deserve to be on there. I'm the only guy at my FLGS that plays Chaos, and I have to explain rather slowly why Chaos fails. Still, it's fun to play with a kill count goal.

Can't say I can offer much else to the issue at hand, not enough cognitive authority on my part yet. :P

AbusePuppy said...

>JWolf was spot on with his IG platoon analysis which is sadly no longer available but incorrect in why it is useful (suppression fire, not anti-tank fire)

To be fair, the two are very closely related concepts and there aren't all that many people who even understand the difference.

But yes, agreed on almost all counts.

Messanger of Death said...

I agree with general analysis. Especially regarding your decision to split the Space Marine Codices up. DA and BT are really limited in their builds when compared to their 5th Edition brethren.

I'll never understand how players consider JWolf to be awesome. If he ranks CSM that highly then he really needs to reconsider alot of things.

Messanger

Meister_Kai said...

This is actually hilariously alike what I figured the army rankings to be, except that I had Imperial Guard first and Space Wolves second.

It does my imperium-not-liking heart good to see Tau (an older codex) and Tyranids (newish) so high up the list. I think the reason they are underestimated so much is that people aren't playing them in an optimal way, for instance my Tyranid playing friend plays one Tervigon and no Hive Guard (using 2 Zoans and Doom) at 2000. He still wins a good amount but he could be slaughtering people.

I will be buying the DE codex the second it hits shelves to check that mother out.

Thud said...

The best thing about all this?

The fact that there is honest disagreement about which is the best codex. Speaks volumes about how the balance of 40k has evolved from 3rd edition, when it started becoming the game it is today.

Chumbalaya said...

Duh, Orks and Daemons are the best cuz they win tournaments!

Caz said...

I'm glad orks aren't in jwolfs list, so many people think they are amazing and it really pisses me off as I play orks and get told that orks are 'beardy' and nob bikers (which i don't even take) are the 'best unit in the game'

lol

Meister_Kai said...

"Speaks volumes about how the balance of 40k has evolved from 3rd edition, when it started becoming the game it is today. "

I find this comment very interesting, could we perhaps get a breakdown of what have been the historically best books in each edition? I do remember reading somewhere that Eldar were the be all end all of either 3rd or 4th edition (then the Starcannon was nerfed or something).

Warsmith Morgoth said...

I kind of agree with IG being #1 just because of their flexibility and ability to spam tons of vehicles. I think Tau are the army to beat in 5th, but they only have like one build, which is why i give the nod to IG just like you Kirby.

I play Chaos and I hate the fact that the codex is junk. It pisses me off so much that GW just shit out the codex without thinking of the impending 5th edition implications. I still play my flavor of chaos on a regular basis and win on a regular basis but I don't play against lists that are super tuned up like i see on blogs.

I still have a hard time convincing the people I play against that orks, chaos marines, daemons, and necrons aren't good.

Kirby said...

@Thud; couldn't agree more.

@Meister_Kai; couldn't give you a list of good armies from 3rd and 4th having not understood the game mechanics as much as I did now but from recollection Eldar were good through 3rd/4th due to CTM & tri-falcons. SWolves were very effective in 3rd as were Chaos which carried over into 4th (especially with their Legion codex). Can't recall any others but other input would be great?

Messanger of Death said...

@ Meister_Kai - Ask Stelek. He has been in the hobby since Rogue Trader and seems to have the sort of memory necessary to undertake that task.

Messanger

Da Warboss said...

I play orks and don't have much trouble vs anyone. I win a lot and i lose some, but no army is perfect. They sure as hell don't rate below Witchhunters or tau.

Kirby said...

Once again your eloquence and reasoning is jaw dropping Da Warboss and I can't wait for your next troll post <3.

Orks have no way to deal with the mass of Mech which Witchunters can put out all of which screws over every aspect of Orks. They have mass high strength, decent AP templates which screw your hordes and enough meltaguns to make even Nobs and Kanz stop and ponder. Add in IG can still be used and they can get excellent objective sitters and suppression fire back-up.

I point you to the Armies in 5th articles and How To for Tau to show how wrong you. If you think you can deal with 4+ turns of Tau firepower whilst you move through their defensive layers and then actually threaten them in combat reliably (yes sometimes it does happen, we play a game based on dice), well not sure what game you are playing, 2+ cover or something?

Stop trolling and offering your opinion and start offering your opinion with reasoning behind it.

Ben said...

@Meister_Kai: 2nd edition Eldar were pretty severely broken, IIRC. It was pretty much axiomatic that this was where you found your WAAC players in that edition.

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