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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Email in: General and specific advice for 40k noob (SM)


"Hello Kirby:

First, thanks for doing this blog - it has already helped a noob like me learn a lot more about playing 40k properly. I could not find guidelines for emailing you, so I just decided to go with whatever comes to mind.

I've been collecting 40k for a long time now, on and off for about 10 years. However, I was only ever into the painting side of things, never into the gaming aspect - this might have had something to do with new army syndrome and my limited cash reserves. As a result, I've never played a game of 40k bar a 400-point battle in which my opponent taunted me to set up my tac squad outside of cover, then promptly killed it with genestealers.

Recently, I've been actually getting an army done instead of just painting random characters, and was wondering if I could get some words of wisdom from the pros. I believe that I have a basic understanding of theory - I enjoy mathhammer, I can see which units are viable and which are horribly overcosted etc, but I fail on experience, having played a grand total of 0 games, so I have no idea of actually how to use my lists.

First off, here is my list for 1k - just to start me off as I don't want to paint another 10 tactical marines :( - and 1.5k lists -

1k:

HQ -
Librarian

Elites -
9 sternguard, HF, 2Xcombi plasma, 3X combi melta, Rhino

Troops -
10 tac marines, Flamer/MM, Rhino
10 tac marines, Flamer/MM, Rhino

Heavy Support -
Predator Destructor
Predator Destructor

1.5k:

1k list +

Elites -
5 TH/SS termies

Troops -
10 tac marines, Flamer/MM, Rhino

Fast Attack -
Land Speeder, MM/HF
Land Speeder, MM/HF

I know that sternguard are rather fragile and expensive, not the best for cost-effectiveness, but I still would like to include them - the idea of versatile uberbolters designed for close-range firefights fits perfectly into fluff as well as being theoretically good in my mind. I've tooled up my squad to have a reasonable chance of killing anything, but if that doesn't actually work on the tabletop, let me know.

For the 1k list, I'm concerned about the lack of long-ranged anti-tank firepower. All my anti-tank is either heavy weapons on infantry or 3 shots on sternguard, who often should be killing other stuff instead of tanks.

For the 1.5k list, I've tried to remedy this by the speeders, but I still fear that it is not enough. The TH/SS termies are there to stop any CC monsters from tearing up my whole army.

Now, onto more general matters -

1. Why not epistolary? I've read this in one of the articles in your blog. I would have thought that doubling the psychic output of your librarian is worth a 50% increase in cost. Again, this might be my lack of experience speaking, but I'd have thought it would be useful enough to do stuff like GoI + xx, or Null Zone + Avenger etc. to justify the cost?

2. As mentioned before, I have no idea how to use the list, and mech in general. What do I do with the preds? Stay behind for dakka or move up with the rhinos to provide AV13 coverage? What about the rhinos? Rush up at full speed towards the objectives or take a more careful approach? When do I unload my marines from the rhinos, if ever? (only firing a MM from inside the rhino seems rather wasteful) How do I maintain focus in the army while trying to capture multiple objectives? I have watched people play 40k, during which they just sort of move troops foward en masse towards objectives, and I would like to inject a bit more finesse and thought into my games.

Any help on the subject would be greatly appreciated."

First I'd love to see some of your models if that's what you've been doing for your 40k career. I imagine you  have some pretty ones! In regards to your lists, the Sternguard aren't a great choice. When taken they need to be taken generally times 3 or in Drop Pods to gain their best usage out of combi-meltas. In a normal mech list by themselves they stick out against your Tac Squads and Preds like a sore thumb and will be targeted. I know you said you wanted to include them but with the type of list you've got around them...they don't fit. I'd therefore drop them for 2x Riflemen Dreads & a HF/MM Speeder and the Libby can walk behind one of your Rhinos (or you can replace a Tac squad w/a LasPlas squad and add a Typhoon leaving you with 20 pts spare in the 1k list). For the 1.5k list end up with something like:

Libby
2x Riflemen Dreads
5x TH/SS
2x 10xTacs w/Flamer/MM/Rhino w/HK
5xTacs w/combi-flamer/RBack w/LasPlas
2x1 Typhoon
2x Dakka Preds

For 1495 pts. Pretty standard for what is on this blog with the recent advent of LasPlas for the Libby & TH/SS wall but is a lot more balanced than having a single Sternguard squad in a Rhino. You can use the Sternguard as "Tac squads" if you want but if you want Sternguard in your list, let me know and we can make a list around them. However, it will be different from what is here because it's a different styled list if you still want to keep a balanced list. Onto your specific questions:

1) Rarely do you need 2 powers for an SM Libby. Null Zone is that much better than every other spell out there and paying 50pts for the occasional use of Avenger or Gate at the same time isn't often worth it over the course of 5+ games.

2) As ever with 40k; it depends :P. Against a close-ranged list like Immo spam, don't rush up (I've made that mistake) with your Rhinos. Move a bit into midfield but not as far as you normally can and use the range of your list to your advantage. Preds will usually stay at the back but use them to cover your Rhinos during your deployment for AV13 coverage. Rarely, ever, ever unload your Tacs. Whilst it is expensive for a MM, it forces your opponent to de-mech your Tacs (so your other tanks keep shooting) and you only ever really need to hop out of the Rhino when you really need to bolter something to death (i.e. late-game objective clearing). Moving en  masse to objectives is generally pretty fail as you've pointed out the mindless aspect. At lower points 4-5 objectives are difficult to contend with because 40k wasn't designed for those points. A lot of this comes with experience as you have to know when to move your Rhinos further into midfield and when to camp them further back. Basically if you get closer, does your opponent's firepower increase more than yours? Then think carefully before moving closer, etc.

I recommend reading the Armies in 5th articles on movement/shooting which might help with your general queries as well and let me know if you want a Sternguard based list!

7 pinkments:

Chumbalaya said...

I do like me some Sternguard. 2-3 units zooming up with that versatile dakka is very handy if you don't feel like shelling out for Termies and Raiders.

Anonymous said...

Hello again Kirby;

Thank you for the pointers :D. I will certainly go read the armies in 5th articles - I had neglected it before since I thought it was about specific armies only, and I didn't see an SM article in there.

I would actually want to see what a sternguard-based army would look like, since I love those little buggers so much. I've never been a fan of podding though, it seems to divide your forces too much and leaves the sections of your army open to being killed one bit at a time.

VT2 said...

I disagree.
Sternguard are very effective and efficient - pods or not.

They're a utility unit, capable of dealing with almost all targets in the game, and give you the ability to put more armor on the field.

Unless you plan on using a second, large unit with attached rhino, you'll be much better off splitting the large squad into two smaller, and packing them in razorbacks.
This gives you more vehicles, and keeps their perceived threat level down, as well as giving you another melta- or flamerplatform - which you can never have too many of.

Terminators really need a land raider, or they risk not having any impact on the game.
This is why mine only come out to play in larger games, where I can afford twin rocks, as one rock is easily stopped by most non-ork opponents.

A sternguard list would look something like this.

Librarian

Sternguard - 2 combi, 2 heavy flamers, razorback; heavy bolter, hunter-killer
Sternguard - 2 combi, 2 heavy flamers, razorback; heavy bolter, hunter-killer
Sternguard - 4 combi, razorback; heavy bolter, hunter-killer

Tactical - 10 men, combi-bolter, meltagun, multi-melta, rhino; hunter-killer
Tactical - 10 men, combi-bolter, meltagun, multi-melta, rhino; hunter-killer
Scouts - 10 men, sniper rifles

Assault squad without jump packs- flamer, rhino; hunter-killer.
Assault squad without jump packs - flamer, rhino; hunter-killer

Predator destructor - hunter-killer
Predator destructor - hunter-killer
Predator destructor - hunter-killer

Sprinkle powerfists as you see fit.
Librarian hides with assault marines. Use your armor 13 vehicles to screen the armor 11. Remember, razorbacks can shoot over predators, thanks to the turrent being so high up.
Scouts, while not terribly good, camp your homebase, and throw some occasional shots against monsters.

Brother Loring said...

Really??
2 5-man assault squads with a single flamer and a one-shot str 8 missile for 120 points. Or are you taking them for their CC prowess??

This seems like a crazy waste of point to me and 2 of them for 240 points (~1/6 of your army). The problem with sternguard in Razorbacks is they're expensive and have to get out to shoot. Which means they're not going to be there next turn a.k.a. a waste of points.

I assume the combi-weapons you're taking are meltas (as otherwise you only have 2 meltaguns total). And if that's the case you get out and either the melta or the flamer will be wasted. This is where 10 man squads in pods excell... drop and CS into melta and flamer elements (tasty in Vulkan lists). But 5-man mix/match squads are just not focussed.

I'll give you a small tick for alpha-strike (10 HKs and 3 Auto/HB preds, 3 HB razors), but it's really not that scary. What will you do against AV14 (feel like an ork - that's what) or even AV13 considering your opponent can adopt the same tactic as you. 10 str 8 shots may give you 2/3 glance/pens if your lucky. Scary? Definately not and after that you're done for.

@OP - I agree, I absolutely love sternguard (and vanguard) models, but they can only fill very specialised roles within the army and are even then probably over-priced to do that. In rhinos, Kirby is spot on when he says they stick out like a sore thumb in terms of target priority. The only way around this is to go with a sternguard heavy list (something a bit like the above with 3 units but with different kit) and go with Pedro so they're also scoring. It's not an extremely competitive list, but maybe more to your liking. Go with minimal tacs to fulfil your troop quota and the rest of the points in fire-support - dreads would require a MotF, but Typhoon speeders are dakka preds are reasonable.

VT2 said...

Assault marines have but two purposes: more armor on the field; cheap unit you can put librarians in. Since he can use his powers from inside the steel coffin, all is well with the world.
In fact, you can barbeque out of the fire points with the squad's flamer, while the librarian casts something useful.

You could put him with sternguard, but that means his life expectancy decreases significantly, and he really won't add much to their power.

Any combi will do, since they're all identical in cost, but meltas are preferable. Two heavy flamers tend to fry most things, with or without added combi-flamers.
Sternguard always want to get out. That's why you take them, silly.
If they're not in melta/barbeque range, you're wasting points, and if you limit the squad to two firepoints, you're wasting not only points, but a perfectly good elite slot, as well as playing a great unit wrong.

Pedro is bad, even when you run 3x10 sternguard, because he removes combat tactics.
You need to build your entire army around mister Kantor if you want it to work, and even when you do, you still end up with a subpar list.

Brother Loring said...

Like I said, you're wasting weapons if you're taking melta/flamer mix. The flamers don't touch vehicles and the meltas are wasted on infantry. Yes, you have 'duality', but if you get out of the transport they get toasted straight away and you'll only really use one or the other (flamer or melta), so it's pointless. That's why defined squads with the your transport providing the 'duality' element (see melta vets in chimera/BA melta RAS in flamer razors etc) are often used. Drop-podding combi vets are pretty much a sacrificial unit and can combat squad into 2 distinct element, providing the 'duality'. The melta team open and the flamer team burn.

The list I mentioned was 'based' around Pedro -hence 3 10 man sternguard units - I don't get how else you 'base' a list around him? Unless you use him for his +1 attack bubble and run him alongside the only SM CC unit (terminators), but that is unnecessary and can also be done better. I did say it is not extremely competitive though!

One flamer out of a rhino is just not scary and the points are better invested elsewhere. I'd take a pair or typhoon speeders over them. 4 missiles + 6 str 5 shots every turn + 60 points spare > 2 single shot str 8 missiles + 2 flamers (which can only be used in 'kill me' range).

Kirby said...

Agree with Loring on your army suggestion to VT2, not scary compared to a normal mech list. Sternguard really want to be run in a shooty list out of Rhinos or with 3 squads maxing out on combis and unfortunatly for the OP, they are best done in Pods.

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