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"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

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reply to Heresy-Online re: Chaos

Hello Heresy *waves.* Someone once again got irked by Chaos not being considered a good army and me (and many others) pointing it out. So here’s a reply to a couple of the main points on this thread and potentially we can develop some more discussion for it. First, the army list in the Armies in 5th: Chaos Summary is not the best Chaos list; it was the best from the submitted articles in a classroom assignment. That is stated in the post. It’s not mine. Stop saying it sucks because it doesn't suck. It has issues such as PFists on the Plague Marine Champs but it's a solid list all the same. Next, I never ever, ever, ever said Chaos were the worst army. Ever. Don’t put words in my mouth (please). At best they are like Orks, DA and BT, sitting below the good armies in terms of competitiveness and they are certainly capable of beating good lists if the opposing general is bad, makes mistakes or has crap dice/terrain/tournament rulings, etc. However, all of those books have glaring codex flaws which I will cover below for CSM. Also, I never mentioned comp in my Chaos posts (unless I was pointing out it gets comped poorly when it shouldn’t be). Again, words in my mouth. Stop it.

Third, spouting tournament results at me isn’t going to do anything. Especially when you talk about battle points (an introduced concept which favors seal-bashing; see Sand Wyrm’s post), comp (an introduced concept which attempts to balance 40k; and fails) and 1500 points (which as TKE points out, is a whole new ballgame for Chaos and Orks. Yet Tau still kick rear-end). Given the opportunity, I would never play in a tournament with any of the above. I know this isn’t the case but this just underlines the lack of reliability and validity of tournaments (MoD; where is that article!). And yes, I am knocking the validity of the UK GT. Looking at two tournaments (NOVA and BFS) where a very similar format was used which is potentially the most reliable and valid format out there atm, and Chaos is nowhere to be seen in the Top armies (though Daemons made 9th at NOVA iirc). Whilst there needs to be a lot more of these type of tournaments for there to be any reasoning to actual use them as good indicators of competitiveness (and even then, there will be issues and it will be more confirmatory data of theory and needs to be interpreted with great caution), this is a start. Note I am also not saying this is proof of Chaos/Orks/etc sucking. The supporters of Chaos also point out how Chaos is poorly comped and this is clearly an indication of Chaos being good. At Lords of Terra, a list which compromised Noise Marines and Bezekers and minimal anti-tank was comped worse than my T6’R’Us. Worse. Ask Vince (who only had 5 tanks?) how easy that army was for him to beat. If TOs could comp correctly, then that would be a valid argument.

I have to give kudos for the lack of Lash complaining and no how Lash is so dominate so well done there.
So let’s look at the Chaos book’s flaws. They’ve been covered before in the Armies in 5th articles but I’ll repeat them.

  1. Crap anti-tank. You’ve got Oblits... and that’s it. Dreads when played properly are decent MM platforms but as many point out, aren’t reliable and will always do what you don’t want when you really need it. Everything else is basically sac melta. Sac melta is good except you don’t want your expensive Troops as sac units and you’d rather your Elites not be throw-away units. That being said, Chosen and Terminators as sac melta are viable choices.
  2. This leads to point 2, crap FoC. Fast Attack is pretty much useless and over-priced. A simple change to make Chaos way better is to give them Attack Bikes or Land Speeders. Otherwise most Chaos armies would love more Heavy Support (oblits or preds) or HQ (nurgle princes w/wings) supported by Plagues/CSM and that’s just bad codex design. However, bad codex design doesn’t equate bad lists. Tau, Witchunters and Eldar are all piss poor army books in terms of internal balance but make good lists but when one of your slots (FA) is completely useless and only two of your slots (HS and HQ) are really good, you’ve got issues. The above lists have at least one very good option in every slot which makes up their mono-builds. Chaos lack in FA completely and severely in Elites and these two slots are generally very important in competitive lists.
  3. Expensive; everything in the CSM book is just that little bit more expensive than it should be. CSM are 15 points you say but when you add in a Rhino and two meltaguns they cost the same as a Tac squad. Add in they don’t have ATSKNF or combat tactics (but have better Ld options) and the Tacs have a better heavy weapon selection (hi MM) and come with their Sarge and your midfield is less reliable unless you go for more expensive Troops which are not what they are made out to be. Plague Marines are good indeed but expensive and poor in combat. Zerkers are great at torrenting non-assault units but have troubles with charges and actual combat units (Land Raiders without PotMS, even godhammers, are crap btw). Noise Marines are more expensive marines with I5...woot? Now pay 5 more points to actually get an okay gun and it’s still not great. Do I have to talk about TSons? Lesser Daemons are a nice little throwaway unit and that’s fine but when you need to be scoring you don’t want throw away Troops, especially when your Troops are already closing with the enemy with meltaguns.
  4. Crap suppression fire. Look an article not by me. Suppression fire is a great concept in 5th because it helps against mech without forking out pure anti-tank guns. Playing a foot army? Suppression fire is still very useful. Ask all those S6/7 rate of fire weapons you see in Imperial, Eldar, Tyranid and Tau armies (DE have S8 those lucky pointy-ears). Chaos doesn’t have this unless it sacrifices something else that is needed (like Oblits or melta).
What this boils down to is a huge amount of pressure on DPs and Oblits to carry the day and whilst they are both good buys, they cannot carry an army list and have their own weaknesses (Oblits can be ID’d and for some armies this is ‘easy’; DPs are out there alone and Dreads/GDs can only offer so much support in terms of saturation). Combined with the increased expense across the board for Chaos and you get minimal damage potential compared to 5th edition lists, lack of target saturation compared to 5th ed lists and an uphill battle against 5th ed lists. Now obviously having less of everything (firepower, damage potential, saturation, etc.) is a moot point if everything is AV14, BS10, S10, AP1, ignores cover, etc. but alas, CSM don’t have those rules (yet...?).

This is where the comparison comes in against Vanilla/BA/SW lists (not DA/BT who they are on par on because they also suffer in terms of expensive units but have better FA/Elites and worse HS, etc. etc.). They are as close a comparison as you can get and except for Oblits, the loyalist variants have better Troops (you really have to stop saying more expensive and less reliable CSM are > Tacticals; check it here; and whilst Plagues > Tacticals, they also pay for it and are still sac bloody melta units), actual Fast Attack, actual combat units, balanced army lists, anti-tank which isn’t just sac melta + Oblits, suppression fire, they are cheaper across the board, actual useful Elites, more than 2 HQ choices which aren’t terrible (DPs and Kharn), duality across the FoC, etc. What this boils down to is not just more list choices and options but better lists and options. Again, Oblits are great. DP are good and CSM Troops are solid but they are not going to be able to best lists by themselves because they cannot fit in the tools for the job. Again, this is not to say they cannot win against 5th ed lists or are terrible but they fight an uphill battle against properly built 5th ed lists from the most recent books and certain older books (Tau, Witchunters, Eldar).

Let’s quote Wusword77 because, well he said it just right:

“What Kirby is saying is that if you took 2 people, of the same skill level and had them play against each other Chaos doesn't measure up against some of the other codexs.

The codex has issues is all Kirby is saying. At no point was he making the point of "The 'dex the worst in the game and everyone that plays it is an idiot, that should be shot and killed on sight."

A dex that has one (general) build isn't a great dex, it's ok at best.”

I wouldn’t agree with the last comment as that one build can be great (Immo spam and Hybrid Tau say hi) but he’s spot on with everything else and has clearly read and not inferred from my article series. Chaos have issues. It’s simple. If you don’t want to believe it, that’s fine. If you want to insult the people I play against, that’s fine, too (hell Vince has beaten me with Chaos when I used a 5th ed Eldar army, but then again I don’t go around saying I beat blabla list regularly as though it means something). Don’t however, get all high and mighty, put words in my mouth and get all whiney. It’s childish and annoying. If you want to discuss the issues with Chaos, I and the readers here, are all for it. Discussion helps learning on all sides (look at Fluger and myself; we clearly disagree over Orks but we have respect for each other and can debate without devolving into gibbering somethingorothers).

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