Kirb your enthusiasm!


"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Email in: Confuzzled about Chaos in your blog

Here is a very long, well thought out and rather nice e-mail from Jacob/ Zhukov/ Warseernamewithheldeventhoughweallknowit concerning the Armies in 5th articles with Chaos. It's so long that I'm going to snowmobile lite it. Rather than putting my comments in the middle of the writing though I'm going to reply to each paragraph simply for ease of reading. As usual my comments in blue.

Hello Kirby,

Let me start with admitting that I 'discovered' your blog only recently (very recently). Overall a lot of articles are just fun to read. Probably because you try to make fun of other people/forums a lot. Making fun of people who are both wrong and who take themselves way too seriously is funny (and maybe even needed). But I dont send you an e-mail to give you compliments only, that would be boring wouldn't it?

No, the reason I write is because of your judgement on the Chaos codex (articles from about 2 months ago; still recent enough for me to comment on it). Overall you make a lot of valid points, especially regarding the shortcomings of Chaos. However you focus a little too much on the shortcoming; partly caused by the fact that you seem to direcly compare them with other Marine armies (not to be mistaken by comparing them with the things a good 40k army needs to be able to function in 5th edition, I agree with this). You seem to miss one important thing and several smaller ones (some of them actually overestimating certain units).

There is never necromancy on 3++! Just more discussion. The Armies in 5th articles are meant to focus on how an army operates in 5th edition and addresses a lot of the commonly held opinions of lists. Chaos is often thought of a very good army yet doesn't fit too well into 5th because of the observed short-comings. Ya like Orks, it's not all bad like say Necrons but they are limited in what they can do. If this was a codex review, ya I focused on the negatives and didn't really review the codex but since it's not...

Well to be honest, I probably would not have written if I had not seen that army list which won your 'chaos army list competition' (well maybe I would, who knows):

To speak with your words 'I is confuzzled'.

I'll quickly establish this is what I feel was the best list of the bunch. It's not the best of the best but it's a solid list overall.

Powerfists on 5 man Plague Marine squads? I hope I dont have to explain why this is bad.

You don't and I agree with you.

Greater Deamon...very doubtfull unit already (no wings; when does it show up?; only being able to put in a place of a champion),but the fact that it will take the place of a Powerfist champion for sure (as every champion has a powerfist in that list) makes him bad in this list.

GDs aren't terrible choices (especially when Champs are simply extra models added in) and provide another MC to go with the Princes & Dreads. For the points it isn't terrible and as long as you're set in Heavy Support, Elites, HQ and have your scoring/midfield sorted, it's not a terrible investment.

Dreads. Have you actually played with them? Its not nice to have to work around their shortcomings; like you seemd to suggest somewhere. This actually came close to things what people say on Warseer when they bad defend units, you know lines like 'they just require more skill to use!'. The fact that it might shoot your own units (depending on how you interpret the rules, this unclear case makes it already a risk to use on tourneys), is not even the worst thing. No bottomline is that you cannot count on them that they will do what you want. Its bad when 2 out of your 3 dreads decide that they need a little walk this turn. 'No dammit! I wanted to shoot instead of running towards his melta!'. Just bad. While in theory they would be a pretty good support unit for your troops and Princes, their rules screw them over and makes them bad for tournement play. You want a reliable army for tournements.

Yes I have and I also play on LoS being basically the front arc of the Dread otherwise my Dreads will swivel when immobilised. Yes this makes them deploy at the front of your army and you don't want things running in front of them and they can be unreliable but the provide a mobile MM (very important) which can also whack things around in combat and support Princes. This means your Troops are free to remain mobile and shoot and also means you don't have to throw units like Terminators, CSM, Bikes, etc. with meltaguns at your opponent when those points can be spent elsewhere. Yes they aren't fantastic and Termicide/Chosen are viable other options but Dreads in themselves are also quite solid for that they provide the list. Mobile MM and cc presence.

Well and this list is the list people will see after they've read your otherwise overall nice article about Chaos in 5th edition.

But there is more! I miss one essential thing in your analysis on Berzerkers. You mention that they are a great 'tormentor unit', which I of course agree with. A huge amount of Ws5 I5 S5 attacks on the charge is good, or even very good. However thats it... what about the Skull Champion in combination with the powerfist!? This is what makes this unit good (or very good for Chaos standards) instead of okay'ish. A Ws5 3A base powerfist is awesome. It makes the whole unit so much more usefull overall. Furious charge is a nice bonus; s9 is nice against certain vehicles (or lolords!) might the opporunity be there.

Yes they arent the toughest around with their normal Marine profile. And yes they lack the speed of certain other units and they certainly lack a nice Assault transport. However thats what keeps them pretty cheap. Well relatively cheap at least.

It makes the units not useless against tanks, MCs and Dreads just like it does for Orks and BA ASM but it's still not something to write home about. It's a combat unit and therefore a good upgrade to ensure the unit simply isn't bogged down by a Dread and it certainly helps in combat resolution but it still doesn't make the unit good at combat; it's okay. It doesn't have an appropriate method of assaulting (can't out of Rhinos, foot = slow, LR = expensive and a bigger bucket of meh thanks to only Godhammer variant and no PotMS) and is relatively expensive. They aren't terrible but their main drawbacks come from their transport woes and therefore finding it hard to initiate assaults they want. Compared to say BA Jumpers w/FC who are roughly the same price when you add in the Priest, they are more maneuverable, more survivable, better able to get a charge off, able to carry special weapons, able to combat squad and therefore a more viable unit. Even those guys are just good and any real combat unit will still knock them over backwards.

You mention that they fail when they are getting charged by a half-decent combat unit. True; but this the other way around too in almost every case so it comes down to who charges. Like you pointed out they arent the easiest units to charge with, but to be honest this goes for most enemy units too. Land Raiders get shot down; open topped Av10 vehicles get shot down and units which are fast because of a bike/jumppack whatever can be shot at in the way in. The fact that Berzerkers ride in the humble rhino is both a disadvantage and an advantage as you can see. (keeps them cheap; nothing really to lose). Reliable is the word which comes to mind.

All those other armies are able to bring saturation to the table though. A BA jumper list at 2000 has 30 ASM coming at you in 6 different squads, Sanguinary Guard, Libbies, Death Company, Honor Guard, VV and Meph/Dante, etc. all running right at you. Those units will be able to get their charges off far more reliably than 2-3 units of Zerkers who aren't cheap enough to buy more than this at that point level. You also have to account for their scoring ability in your army and since they can't combat squad and require their transport for mobility and since they are best in assault can be tied up when you need them (ASM overcome this with a lot of backup units, combat squadding and jump packs) which means you need to spend more points on other things like Plagues or CSM to have a reliable scoring core. Yes Princes and Dreads help out in regards to overwhelming your opponent but add in Oblits and that's pretty much your army. 

And this word 'reliable' is what I miss in your analysis about Chaos. When you only take proper units you get a very reliable build. Sure; your openent knows how to play against it but that goes for almost every army. I can easily read my openents list when I see it. Doesnt matter if I've seen it before or not, I can see easy enough on the battlefield what my oponent his best way of playing is (just assume your oponent is as good as yourself and you'll never be surprised in a bad way. At least if one is good enough himself that is)

Oh Chaos are pretty reliable, they are MEQ and although they don't have the twin-linking of Marines and their Dreads do some crazy stuff, they are a reliable army especially with their Ld and re-rolls. This doesn't overcome their units being over-costed, lack of good fast melta units, army synergy, etc. In the end a good Chaos list versus a good list of another army is going to be lacking in anti-tank in terms of mobile melta and will be outnumbered/gunned due to old codex prices.

Princes are great combat monsters indeed. And thats what makes them able to fulfill their main role so good: Bullet sponge. No matter how silly this may sound, dont confuse this with people who advocate Vindicators 'because they draw fire!!!1ONE!!'. While it is the same, a Prince is actually Brilliant for this role. Its a very survivable flying MC for his cost. Take Mark of Nurgle on him and you force your openent to shoot with heavy fire on him too (as you make a lot of low strenght fire less effective, S4 needs twice the amount of shots to inflict the same amount of wounds for example).

Princes are slightly underpriced. They really are. But you dont notice this quickly because the rest of the Chaos codex compensates for this by weaknesses you pointed out. Main weakness is the lack of a Fast and Cheap MM platform indeed... the thought of being able to take MM attack squadrons or Land Speeders in this codex would make it a top army right away (no really! You dont believe me do you...). Yes our 3x2 Oblits need to do more than they should need to do; but the Princes compensate for this to some extent actually. In general it goes like this: the other guy will have to focus on the Princes; simply because they are flying combat monsters, ignoring is not really an option (I have seen people trying this, it made for some fun heh). In the meanwhile your Oblits will shoot at stuff too. And here comes the important part: Your Princes require more fire than they should regarding their cost and therefore when your Princes are dead the Oblits will have taken out relatively more of your stuff in that time. At least this is my view on it. I feel that Chaos gets a netto gain in this way very often.

Hey if Chaos had a point reduction in terms of their Troops and proper fast attack they'd be sitting pretty like Tau/Eldar/Witchunters. Capable of playing in 5th competitively but built around a couple of units. That is Chaos' biggest issue, fail FA and over-costings in places. I feel Nurgle Princes are fine as they are cost-wise remembering you can force them into assaulting 12" moving transports (difficult but doable) or bubble-wraps whilst dealing with your opponent's ranged firepower or simply take the Princes out, suffer the extra ranged firepower for a couple turns and then focus on the Oblits. If you add in fast moving melta though? Well you need to take them out too which gives your Oblits more time to shoot which means your Troops/Dreads/Princes are more capable of chewing through the busted up contents.

Of course this is a bit standard and it doenst go exactly like this all the time (depends on the oponent bla bla), but there is truth in this at least.

Berzerkers in rhinos and Plagues in rhinos just...well synergise well enough with Princes and Oblits. The survivability of Oblits is many times underrated; they are almost immune to ML's and Autocannons. 2 very popular weapons nowadays. Yes they can be hurt by small arms fire, but this is short ranged so no ussually no deal in the early games. Lasscannons are my biggest pain. But coupled with move + firing back with Lasscannons gives Oblits a fair chance at least. Lasscannons arent that popular either (or similar weapons), except with DE... DE may become painfull but we'll see about that.

Oblits are very survivable and like nearly everything out there (except Orks!) lascannons are their bane lol. The problem with both plagues and Zerkers in Rhinos is their cost. They work brilliantly as a tandem as the Plagues can just sit on objectives and shoot whilst Zerkers move forward with dreads/princes but by that point you've invested a lot of points already and if anyone breaks through your Dread/Prince/Zerkers, well not much you can do. Whilst this is true for any firebase, because you're only leading with 7 units (2 zerks, 3 dreads, 2 Princes), this is more likely to happen when another army can plop 10+ mobile and in your face tanks down. Again, having things like Bikes or Speeders and point reductions would minimise these problems extensively.

Overall the main strenght of Chaos is this: If you dont focus on the Oblits and Princes you'll simply die (because of their good damage output), because of this your troops get to do a lot. Especially Berzerkers. And then in the end of the battle, openents will simply lack the tools to still be able to deal with the Plague marines. The plague marines, who are extremely resiliënt against low-quality weapons and they will make use of that quality because openents cant spend high-quality fire on them before its too late (lack of those kind of weapons/units or not enough time left).

This is true of most armies but most armies also have the ability to throw rapid melta units which aren't scoring at opponents and can bring more saturation to the table. Ya when you compare a Zerker squad to an ASM squad getting the charge, Zerkers are doing better but getting that Zerker squad to combat and charging is a lot

Another thing on Plague marines: you say a powerfist is overall bad in that unit. You compare them with Sternguard and regular Marines when you point out that they are a bad CC unit and that a Powerfist doesnt make this any better. True to some extent, but false to some extent too. Plague Marines are way and way tougher in combat. The powerfist makes you able to win the combats. 40k is all about winning combats. It makes them a very decent anvil unit; while they are able to win most engagements in the long run might they not be able to get additional support. At least (even when considering their higher cost) they are way better at it than Sternguard/marines. In units of 7 a powerfist is just fine really. I think the main difference is that you never really want your sternguard or Marines in combat, simply because you dont gain anything with in 95% of all cases. However with Plague Marines you want to be in combat much more often, not in the least because of their 'anvil' function like I said already. Marine armies lack 'hammers' ussually to gain any advantage of this.

Powerfists can help poke squads which MEQs generally poke in combat anyway and only really help against other MEQ units which aren't so great at combat (i.e. mirror matches). It doesn't save the squad from Dreads, MCs or actual combat units unless it already is a combat focused unit like ASM or Zerkers. Plague Marines even with a fist aren't a top-notch combat unit, most units/models which are successful in combat will still beat Plagues with or without the fist and what Plagues really need is someone to bail them out (i.e. Zerkers). Yes they are more capable of using Powerfists than regular MEQs because of T5/FNP which makes them resistant to torrenting combat units like Zerkers/ASM but units like Terminators, MCs, SG, Incubi, etc. will just take the PFist hits and still whack around the Plagues. I'd much rather min-sized units of Plagues which are hard to take down and using double specials over sending them into combat. Anvils are nice (i.e. Bikes in Blood Rodeo) but you're tying up most of your melta by sending these guys into combat as a very expensive anvil. Ask Wraithzilla how that works out for Wraithguard lol. Consider their survivability in combat a bonus but either way they need to be bailed out and since you can't really build a Chaos army list around mobile combat units (like Blood Rodeo) you shouldn't be expecting Plagues to get into combat every game and thus don't need the insurance of the PFist more often than not. Again, I'd rather those two specials in a small squad stay mobile and shooty.

Hmm large blob of text, but I still have the idea that I'm forgetting things.

Well a list to include would be the least thing I'm obliged to do:

Prince; Wings, MoN and Warptime 175
Prince; Wings, MoN and Warptime 175

8 Berzerkers; Powerfist, rhino 243
8 Berzerkers; Powerfist, rhino 243
7 Plague marines; Powerfist + combimelta, 2x melta, rhino 266
5 Plague marines; 2x Plasma, rhino + Havoc launcher 195

2 Oblits 150
2 Oblits 150
2 Oblits 150

Total: 1747.

Its a very, very stable and reliable list. No fancy stuff, no things which will fail horribly sometimes. No, everything will perform at a treshold level at least and many times more. Top list? Maybe not...but not far from it. At least, no way as 'sub par' as you make is sound like. Although, believing you would make my performance with them more impressive of course, tempting heh.

I think this highlights what I've said a bit throughout. You have Princes/Oblits/Zerks/Plagues and no room for anything else. Keeping the Plagues small and replacing the Zerkers with CSM allows you to bring in a couple of Dreads. You lose a bit of horde control without the Zerkers but CSM are generally just as okay with bolters/combat and bring special/heavy weapons and improve your midfield staying power. Consider as well you only have 9 units + 4 transports, not hard for your opponent to delay the Zerker rhinos and stop the Princes and then work on dismantling your army. Your opponent can accept whatever the Oblits put out because there's minimal support. No mobile MM, no heavy weapons in midfield and only four specials.

Oh yes, thats what I forgot. Well I cannot do anything else than admitting that Chaos scales pretty horrible. 1750 is about the maximum points total before they lose in effectiveness relative to others quickly. Thats what you covered already in your analysis enough; so not need to repeat this of course (lack Fast + Elite slot mainly)

However; termicide isnt that bad...its not great of course (compare them with Oblits and you can cry in a corner for 3 days long), but they do fit pretty well with the rest of the list (adding some TeQ bodies). But I find the 3x combimelta lacking too much. They are indeed expensive for what they do and not that reliable. Biggest con for me is their one-dimensional use: anything else but deepstriking them is rubbish. Compare them with Land Speeders for example; who can do way more than shooting their MM. This is why a while ago I got a little bit in love with the Reaper... a little bit because its overpriced but it does make for a decent weapon. 3x Termies, including 2x combimelta + 1x reaper comes in at 125. Yes thats quite a lot. But the Reaper gives them way greater overall use and versatality while they still perform their main job well enough (deepstriking anti-tank), might you need that job.

Termicide certainly doesn't help with scaling :P. 6 Terminators with 5++ added at 2000? Meh not scary and there's now more firepower to slow those Rhinos. I'd much rather see 3 Dreads or 3 Chosen squads in Rhinos at 2000. Chosen at least add three more chassis to the table (and if you start adding Havoc Launchers and combi weapons to those Rhinos, they become a lot more versatile) and you can push melta into your opponent's face and force more choices on your opponent's rather than teleporting in sac units.

Taking 2 of these is a quick and allright way of making this list 2000 points.

Other option:
Drop Warptime (not that much of a deal really, not in the least because of 2000 points) + the combimelta. 310 points to spend:

2x 5 Chosen in a rhino with 2x melta and 2x flamer (155 each).

2 extra rhinos; extra melta and flamer weaponry. Thats never really bad of course. And hey; they even have the option of outflanking! (Meh.... but having the option never hurts)

Sure they are again somewhat overpriced; but not that much.

The option I wish I had: dropping both Warptime and including 3x 2 MM attack bikes! Hell yeah! But no we cant do that.

So a pretty long e-mail I guess. I hope it has a place in your blog. I think it has; some argumented criticism is never bad. And hey, you can always try to burn my ideas down right for some lols heh. Excuse me for any fail English in here, I try hard as a Dutchman.

Keep up the nice blog people! (Funny to see VT2 here, I always wondered why he got banned from Warseer. Such a shame)

Cheers, Jacob Auke (Zhukov on B&C and never mind my Warseer profile ;) )

Some excellent discussion points but in the end, the whole CSM codex is generally overpriced which leads to less units/saturation. There are significant problems in Elites (Dreads can go nuts, Chosen are expensive sac melta, Terminators are 5++ models, etc.) and Fast Attack (everything is way overcosted). Yes, the CSM army isn't terrible like Necrons and doesn't have the momentum issues Orks can encounter, but they are a small army and really rely on their Oblits/Preds to help shore up their midfield and general lack of anti-tank.

So everyone else can now chime in ^^. I really enjoyed this e-mail, although we disagreed Jacob/Zhukov was able to clearly express his ideas and generate conversation in a respectful and mature manner and obviously shows insight into the game. This is what I want for 3++ and I thank him a lot for the e-mail and candor!

Follow us on Facebook!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...