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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 13, 2011

Grey Knight Coteaz Acolyte Spam Thoughts

So with Summer Horizon out of the way and some actual tournament games under my belt with a minimum based Acolyte spam list, it's time to look back on my thoughts. Some quick notes, I've played Acolyte spam armies before but they have generally been based on larger units of Henchmen such as 2x Jokeraos + multiple Acolytes in the backfield or 6x6 Acolytes with Storm Bolters, etc. This list is one of the few times I've run a very body light list (and compensated for this by taking the Grey Knight Terminators).

So the point of the list was to maximise my firepower as much as possible by keeping my unit cost as low as possible and taking transport options with effective guns. In the end my army had an effective 11 psycannons (seven relentless, five twin-linked), two S6 twin-linked heavy bolters, 39-62 S4 shots and six S8 twin-linked autocannons spread across 16 effective units. That's very impressive but I only had 41 bodies, over half of which were GEQ (24), seven TEQ and 10 MEQ. The obvious weakness of the list is therefore its body count (consider SW lists often have 50+ MEQ bodies, Imperial Guard can have 100+ GEQs, etc.) which relies upon superior firepower, movement and metal bawkses to keep them alive.

So how did I find it? With only one play-test game with this style of list under my belt before the game, I was a bit apprehensive how I'd find the small scoring units. I also didn't get matched up against serious list contention with the Orks being my sturdiest challenge in that respect (though my playtest game was against a list I would generally say Grey Knights have issue with - a 31 MEQ + 17 TEQ Blood Angels army list). In the end...that apprehension was generally unfounded. More games need to be played obviously to determine the true viability of this list but I was pleased with how it went. Let's look at a few things.
  • anti-tank: despite not having any melta I found my anti-tank was fine. This is contrary to what I ran at Event Horizon with a lot of GKSS and Psybacks but no Passbacks. Having multiple relentless and twin-linked psycannons was very important to securing damage results - even against AV12 vehicles. Having the Psyfledreads to support this was obviously a great help, particularly at taking out those AV12 vehicles when I had to. The lack of AP1 options is still an issue however as sometimes your dice just need a little bit of help...
  • anti-infantry: this was something I thought I would struggle with despite having dealt with a 50+ 3+/2+/FNP army during my play-testing. Whilst there are a fair amount of shots coming out a lot of my S4 is tied up in Acolytes who would much rather hide in their boxes than jump out and contribute. This wasn't really the issue in any of the games despite Cleansing Flame not being able to contribute against the Hordes I did face (Orks) though this firepower can drop dramatically very quickly if Passbacks start exploding out from underneath Acolytes.
  • combat: is still crap like most Grey Knight armies where one either overpays or doesn't get enough. In an Acolyte based army the option of army wide counter-attacking is even removed though the combination of Purifies with Cleansing Flame and a solid sized GKT squad with Halberds certainly helped in punching mediocre combat units in the face and taking a chunk out of good combat units where they are more manageable for my shooting. No army has really focused on my GKT however when they have been needed (i.e. when there is an opposing combat unit I need them for) so not sure how the army will fair if that unit is removed before it can work as a dangerous speed bump.
  • passbacks: when the codex first came out, these were all the rage though some quick play-testing showed they had some serious issues in the early turns despite Fortitude (i.e. any damage result to them whilst 24"+ away from the opponent and which Fortitude couldn't do anything about, hurt a lot). At 85 points a pop, this was an annoying weakness despite the firepower they offered. Despite this and my earlier misgivings about them in the Psycoteaz lists, they offer a nice amount of firepower and when there's a lot of them, their individual weaknesses can be overcome a little bit more. That being said I feel they are best used in Acolyte based lists which generally lack in the Psycannon department.
  • mobility & range: the range of the list is an obvious restriction in early turns - it's unlikely my whole army is always going to be in range, particularly against defensive minded opponents. That being said, I have enough firepower to bring to bear at any given time that having a few units out of range isn't going to be the end of the world and all my units are mobile enough (outside of the GKT) to re-position themselves quickly. With the Psybacks and Psyfledreads backing this up, I should never have more than half of my army out of range.
  • durability of army: with lots of Acolytes and only 40 bodies, the infantry component of my army isn't that durable. I do have 10 tanks though but the simple fact of the matter is when my tanks start popping, my army dies quickly. Exploding tanks are quite likely to take half of my infantry away from me for example and in the case of the three-man squads, can wipe them out completely. That's the Catch 22 of such a list. However, the silver lining of this is I have 18 units - my opponent can only kill so many units a turn, even if they are weak. 
  • utility: outside of Coteaz, the army has jack all utility. There's no blasts, no flamers, no outflankers, limited deep-strike options, no 24" blockers, etc. Coteaz is great for denying the seize, enabling seizes, disrupting charges/reserves, etc. but the army is otherwise based on raw firepower turning the opposing army into scrap metal and a red mist. This has its drawbacks at times as it allows the opponent more breathing room in how they maneuver their army (no S10 blasts? w00t! clumpage). 

Verdict? I like it and there are quite a few options for me at 2000 points. I could replace the Psyback Acolytes with Psyker Rhinos for some S10 AP1 blasts (but at Ld8 Psychic Power). Grab a Grandmaster over the Psycannon Inquisitor for more utility. Keep the same vein and simply add a 3rd Purifier + Razorback squad. Add some Interceptors for more mobility. Add Jokerao to the rear-guard Acolytes for more ranged firepower. Change the GKT to Paladins for more combat punch and another Acolyte + Razorback combination, etc. Lots of options but the feel of the army to me is good. The general weakness of the units is something I'm not a huge fan of but it ticks all my firepower boxes with the counter-assault GKT/Paladins and lots of Psycannons.

We'll see how it goes in 2012 then... and more games against tougher opposition in terms of army lists.

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