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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

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Razorknights? Psyback spam?

A few people have asked for this so they get a nice response... Mech spam the Grey Knight way...well partly Grey Knights regardless. This list will ultimately be quite uni-dimensional like most Razorspam armies but a fun mental exercise none-the-less. It also allows us to look at some options we haven't really explored in terms of unit layouts or unit choices before (though some will be frighteningly familiar) which we can expand to our other list building and play-testing exercises. Let's hop to it then.

N.B. Just so this is clear, this is more of an exercise in literal spamming. GK can do this style of army and have it be more viable as a list by using Strike Squads though I'm more a fan of the strong midfield feel you can get with larger squads. The point of this article outside of literal spamming was to look at a few of the options not really discussed and how to get the most of of your FoC i.e. purgation squads and Vendreads rather than actual 'this list is the bestest ever and you should buys it.' Just in case it wasn't clear in the first paragraph, now it is.

The point of this list will to be putting as many chassis on the table as possible and saturating the board with firepower. The majority of this firepower will obviously revolve around the psycannon profile, i.e. lots of S7 rending. This means our army is going to be focused in quite a small area (24") to be effective against the enemy which will work both for and against the list. You'll have a huge army foot print which means you'll find it hard to bring your full army to bear against fast opponents but at the same time, some of your army will be able to reach out to them. This makes fast armies less effective. At the same time you open yourself up against assault based armies as you cannot sit back and exchange blows. You're unlikely to have the range for it. Since the list is most likely going to be MSU based and not have a lot of combat potential, this is problematic. We'll see if any of these issues can be addressed as we build the list.

Our first port of call is our favorite friend Coteaz. I know, he seems to pop up an awful lot but since we are aiming to get as many tanks onto the table, well he offers us the cheapest way to do that with Acolyte passbacks. They are scoring to boot but are very fragile so we want to take as many Acolytes inside as possible (6). This makes the passback a measly 109 points but obviously is restricted by range and the durability of the Troops inside. We should consider changing a few to LasPlas or TLLC to add some more durable scoring (since it's further away) and some actual downfield punch. The problem with this however, is that down-field punch is very likely to be token firepower unless we take less Passbacks overall. We'll come back to this later but for now we've spent a little over 750 points on our Troops and HQ and accessed six tanks and 24 S7 rending shots for our troubles.

Keeping in mind we want to put our units in Rhinos or Razorbacks we don't have too many options left to us. We could take Psyfledreads for ranged back-up and it could certainly make this list less uni-dimensional and more balanced overall (particularly if we make a couple of the passbacks ranged support). We'd then end up with a very MSU based Psycoatez list at 2000 points. Otherwise this basically leaves us with Purifiers and Purgation squads. Everyone's heard about Purifiers by now I'm sure and how they are the ultimate jack of all trades unit but today we're just using them for their access to two guns per five guys. Taking a Rhino then keeps these guys cheap and they become a psuedopassback when moving and a superpassback when stationary. Not bad but also not scoring and 180 points.

What about the Purgation squad? Ever since the psycannon was reduced in range to 24" these guys haven't really been talked about much. We've discussed them briefly in other lists and for those of you who frequent the chatbawks but we've never really looked at them. So let's take a deeper look. They have two main benefits: astral aim and four weapons in a five man squad. We discussed Astral Aim briefly in the Armies in 5th psychic powers post and we'll flesh it out a bit more here. 24" range isn't too flash with Astral Aim and I've seen a few people try and work in other units with ranged guns beyond 24" (i.e. Techmarines) but this can become a gross underusage of your points. With this in mind we should probably just use the basic 5-man squad and their weapon options + a Rhino or Razorback.

The Rhino has the ability to allow two weapons to be fired from the top hatch so isn't really going to be hyper beneficial in conjunction with Astral Aim but it does provide a great basis for a dualistic unit with two incinerators and two psycannons. On the other hand we could take a Rhino (for cheapness) or Razorback (extra gun) and create a literal wall in midfield to protect our other units. The Purgation squad then disembarks on the 'defended' side and uses Astral Aim to shoot 'through' the Rhino. When needed the Rhinos can move aside and Astral Aim is not needed. This was mentioned briefly in the psychic powers post but more as  an advancing manoeuvre. The important aspect of this is the rest of your army can potentially shoot over the wall due to LoS which makes this a great defensive ploy and since this list is unlikely to have much combat potential, very valuable.

With all that in mind this is a unit which I think is grossly underutilised in other lists. The lack of 36" hurts compared to before but being able to access four weapons in a five man squad is pretty good, particularly since you can plonk those guys in midfield where they can hide and then put out 8-16 S7 shots. Sure you get cover but that's a lot of firepower. The main issue obviously is they compete with Psyfledreads which is one of the cheapist and most readily accessible ranged fire units Grey Knights have access to. This means the list either suffers range issues or you take the more expensive Venerable Psyfeldread. There's nothing wrong with this as the Ven psyfledread basically ignores ~80%+ of results against it in cover but really puts a strain on the list in terms of points.

With all this in mind let's put this list together. We've already used 754 from our passbacks and Coteaz. The Purifiers are going to be taking two psycannons and Rhino so end up 180 each and three of them takes us to 1294 points. We've discussed the options for Purgation squads and I think 4x psycannons and a Rhino is their best use. This provides the army with some midfield defenses against shooting and assaults whilst the army can still operate quite effectively behind it. As the Rhinos die other vehicles can be moved up into their place as well or as the enemy advances, they can be moved aside for more deadly firepower (no cover saves for you!). These units set us back 220 points a piece and three of them takes our army total to 1954. Let's take a look at our very uni-dimensional list.

3x5x Purifiers w/2x psycannons, Rhino
6x6x Warrior Acolytes w/Razorback w/psybolts, TL-assault cannon
3x5x Purgation w/4x psycannons, Rhino

Totals: 1954 points
67 infantry
12 vehicles

With a grand total of...60-96 S7 rending shots across 12 targets. You can change one of the Purgation Rhinos to a Passback and reach 100 S7 rending shots across 13 targets at 1999 points. Exercise in futility complete! That's insane if you can get them all to fire at once but as discussed before, the saturation at the 24" range is going to be an issue, particularly since we are using the Purgation Rhinos as potential defensive screens. Let's see if we can't make the list a little more balanced. To do this we need to change some of the firepower and make it longer-ranged. We'd also love some combat ability but not sure that's going to happen.

We have three ways of getting ranged firepower into this list whilst keeping the same concept alive. Psyfledreads. Venpsyfledreads. LasPlas or TLLC Razors instead of Passbacks. I'd like to keep the Purgation squads since we don't have any real combat threats. This rules out the Psyfledreads which means we should probably take some Venpsyfledreads. We need that reliable 48" firepower and the Dreads bring it. We'd need to spend 15 points per Elite slot to upgrade to three Venpsyfledreads which we have and then we have to decide if we're going to change any passbacks over to ranged Razorbacks. We still have 9 24" units in the army so it might be a good idea to consider changing a few of the passbacks to something else.

We've used up most of our points so don't have many options here. The most basic is changing the passbacks to LasPlas or TLLC RBacks but we could potentially go Monkeymobiles as well (though we'd have to lose some Acolytes from other squads). We could also change the passbacks to Psybacks w/Heavy Bolter + Storm Bolter w/psybolt ammo for 60 points (25 cheaper than the passback). You lose strength and rending but gain some range and more shots at 24". I think these are a better option as additions to a solid core of Grey Knight Strike Squads as backfield dakka but could be viable here as well. For the moment though let's change two of the passbacks to LasPlas RBacks.

3x Venerable Dreadnoughts w/2x twin-linked Autocannons, psybolt ammo
4x6x Warrior Acolytes w/Razorback w/psybolt ammo, twin-linked assault cannon
2x6x Warrior Acolytes w/Razorback w/Lascannon, twin-linked plasma gun
3x5x Purgation squad w/4x psycannon, Rhino

Totals: 1989 points
12 vehicles
52 infantry

With only T3/5+ guys, scoring can be an issue as with any Coteaz list (but at least there are 36 of them) and with the Dreads now included this list looks very similar to what has been posted before but with Purgation squads as a defensive midfield screen instead of Purifiers as a combat unit in midfield. What's more important to take from this exercise IMO is the potential use of Purgation squads and Ven Dreadnoughts as a swap over the normal Psyfledread + Purifier combo. This could come in handy with Crowe lists or in lists needing a greater body count. Not to mention the actual effort in looking at how to build around a concept and being able to identify weaknesses of lists which is what you get with a uni-dimensional list.

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