Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Blog Wars - Tweaking Straken

The deadline for Blog Wars list submission is fast approaching.  Sadly, I have been unable to get in many practice games, but I do have a general feel for how my army performs.  That said, a few tweaks need to be made before I come to a final decision.  Certain elements of the list are underperforming, or just not performing at all.   I guess you could say that this army is a borderline gimmick.  If I had 2000 points, I could redress some of the weaknesses with ease, but let’s see what we can alter with 1750.  

I will start with what I have been running so far, and then go over the good and bad points, as I see them.  

Company Command Squad - Colonel Straken, Medic, 2 Bodyguard, Flappy Banner, Chimera

Veteran Squad - 3 Meltaguns, Chimera
Veteran Squad - 3 Meltaguns, Chimera

Platoon Command Squad - 4 Flamers, Chimera
Infantry Squad - Commissar (power sword), Sergeant (power sword)
Infantry Squad - Sergeant (power sword), Meltagun, Autocannon
Infantry Squad - Sergeant (power sword), Meltagun, Autocannon

Platoon Command Squad - 3 Grenade Launchers
Infantry Squad - Commissar (power sword), Sergeant (power sword)
Infantry Squad - Sergeant (power sword), Meltagun, Autocannon
Infantry Squad - Sergeant (power sword), Meltagun, Autocannon

Vendetta Gunship
Vendetta Gunship

Hydra Flak Tank
Hydra Flak Tank
Hydra Flak Tank
1750 points

This list has performed with mixed results so far. It has done extremely well against small elite armies, who it invariably swamps.  Like most half decent lists, it also tends to utterly takes apart ‘battleforce’ armies.  however, it suffers badly against armies with very large amounts of firepower, or armies that do midfield better than it does (read: Grey Knights)
So, as an exercise in logic and reason, I’ll list what I do like about it, and then what I don't, and then see if I can fix the things I don’t like.  
Things I do like:
  • The number of bodies in the infantry blobs.  I certainly feel that 30 is optimum.  20 would be far too few to sustain casualties and still fight effectively, and 40 would make the blob too unwieldy. 30 Stubborn guardsmen with furious charge, counter attack and 4 power weapons is just as nasty as I expected.
  • Having two blobs gives the list a very solid core.  When the two advance together at the same pace, the enemy often has too many targets, and is forced to either dilute fire, or focus on one target.  Either result suits me.  
  • As a result, this army is capable of very good midfield control, which is something I am not accustomed to, but have very much enjoyed so far.  It cannot compete with the firepower of the likes of Grey Knights, but it gives traditional Grey Hunter Wolves a real headache, because it really does out-shoot and out-close-combat them.
  • Straken himself is very resilient, and quite a nasty surprise in combat.  He is especially good against walkers, thanks to S6 and 2d6 ap.  He even held up Ragnar and 5 termi wolf guard for two turns on one occasion, giving me the win.  (As ever, my semi-deliberate ‘mind games’ style of play, helps to make him seem far more dangerous than he probably is).
  • The addition of two squads of meltavets is a good counterpoint to the large blobs.  The option to run them in the chimeras or the Vendettas is, as ever, extremely valuable.  I would however, prefer them to have demo charges, but cannot find the points. 
  • Hydras and Vendettas are as useful as ever.

Things I don’t like:
  • The two blobs have to work together or the army falls apart at the seams.  It might seem like a simple army to play, but it isn’t.  One mistake at deployment (or having the initiative seized) is fatal, as the blobs cannot support each other.  One falls behind and they are killed one at a time.  This is not so much a problem, as a sign of me needing more practice.  
  • Straken is in some ways too much of a linchpin.  I haven’t had it happen yet, but if he were to get killed early on, the army would be a bit buggered.  The blobs become little more than an expensive tarpit without the initial bang of counter attack or furious charge.  
  • The platoon command squads are effectively useless.  These guys have really been annoying me because they do nothing whatsoever for this list.  I have a lot of anti-infantry potential anyway thanks to massed lasguns and hydras so I don’t need the 4 flamers or the 3 grenade launchers.  Additionally, one 5 man squad being on foot is just a liability in kill point games.  So what do I do with these guys?  This is the main issue I have been having, so suggestions are most welcome!
  • Finally, I can’t help but feel like I might be missing a trick by taking the same FA and HS choices.  Is it just me acting crazy? It just seems to be the best and most effective combo for the points I have available.
Before anyone gives any great advice, only for it to prove entirely fruitless, here is what I have painted, or could get painted in time. 
·         2 Manticores
·         3 Leman Russ hulls and turrets for: 1 Executioner, 2 Demolishers, 1 plain Russ, 1 vanquisher.
·         2 Basilisks
·         1 Medusa
·         3 more Chimeras
·         1 more Hydra
·         1 Hellhound (2 at a push, since 1 isn’t painted)
·         10 Stormtroopers with 4 meltas total
·         Assorted men, including missiles, plasma, flamers, heavy bolters, the odd mortar, a few voxes, some demos.

slight edit:  I feel I should add that I have been staring at this damn list for weeks and simply cannot think of effective ways to improve it.  It isn't that I haven't had ideas, its just that I didn't think the results were remotely worth posting!!


  1. Right - having played against this list twice - with 2 different armies (and both draws - lol) I do like the over all nature of the force.

    I am not sure how much I can help in terms of what will make the list tick better - but I think I can add to what won't.

    First off - template weapons will be counter productive - you have 60 + 5 bodies pushing that midfield - any BS3 template weaps (LR's, Manticores, Medussas) are out imo - the risk from late T2 / early T3 will be that you end up scattering back or denying yourself ground (later in the game).

    Early they could be effective though. But Hydra's are cheap and cheerful and I think they do a decent job.

    In honesty - I don't see those autocannons in the blobs being of much use - it almost seems counter productive except for comical wound situations. I'd maybe be looking at using those points at potentially mounting that 2nd PCS (lord help me - drop the 3rd Hydra to gain the points?)

    However, thats essentially 6 autocannons - 2 of which are extremely reliable - lost. Don't know if I like that.

    I'll bring my 'dex to work tomorrow and have a flick through and try and provide something a little better to the conversation - if I can at all lol, but its late (for 6am starts) and having just helped my mate pack for his move I am ker knack ered.

  2. Okay, i'm not sure i'm worth listening too, but let me talk and see if anything i say makes any sense :)

    I'm not sure the chimelta vets are doing anything for you that you cant get more cheaply.

    Forgive me, I'm away from my army builder and codex, so i'm not sure on points.. but.

    i'd consider dropping the chimeltas, becuase you really arent short of anti armour in the list in the vendettas and platoon melta. if you give the CCS melta too then they have a use and you are losing nothing.

    popping a special weapon squad in each vendetta fo the objective grab late game (as that 1 role your chimeltas fill) especially with cheap lovely flamers to clear said objective would maybe be fun.

    use the spare points to pop a presit with each blob, giving you another power weapon and initial charge rerolls to make some redundacy for straken.

    thats my tuppence.

    but bear in mind i could be a) wrong or b) malicious. (I'm going to blog wars too :) )

  3. Drop the Chimerae. You're running foot blob not mech or hybrid. They give up too many kill points. Do what blob guard do best: Kill point denial and immovable assault blocks. Throw the Meltavets in the Vendetta.

    Use the points saved to include a Lord Commissar in the main Infantry assault blob. Give him a Camo Cloak. Thanks to the BRB FAQ he confers Stealth to the entire blob!

    Inclusion of the Lord Commissar also gives them LD 10 for Stubborn tests and more importantly, receiving orders.

    Issue them 'Move!Move!Move!' orders to get them in the fight quicker.

    Or you can put the Commissar Lord in Straken's unit giving them a 3+ cover save when screened by the lead blob. If the enemy starts pasting the lead blob have them go to ground for the cover save boost. Issue them 'Get Back in the Fight!' to have them get back up next turn and 'Move!Move!Move!' to run them forward.

    I would also recommend giving the Platoon Sgts. Meltabombs. It's only a 1 in 6 chance, but you want to have SOMETHING if you get locked by Blood Talon BA Dreadnoughts.

    Finally, if you want a Demo Charge, don't give it to the Vets. Take Sly Marbo who can deliver it far more effectively. He is also good for contesting objectives by going to ground on them with Stealth for a 2+ cover save.

  4. I would put the Platoon Command Squads in the Vendettas for late game objective grabbing and to simply protect them from being an easy kill point. You could give them 4xFlamers if you had extra points, 4 flame templates to the face is enough to make even MEQs weary.

    Personally I like the 2xMeltaVets, they can work together, apart from the rest of the force, and pose a real threat to MCs, Vehicles, and even infantry. I also like to have a Demolisher or Battle Tank out infront of my mechanized section for cover. AV14 scares people away.

  5. I rather like this hybrid style list. I think the chimera's are really important because people have to shoot them if they've got the vets in! This saves your other tanks and they can be useful movement/LOS blockers to help preserve your infantry blocks and stop late game tank shocks.

    The only changes I would make would be dropping one body guard and a PCS grenade launcher to upgrade the first PCS to full meltas, they can basically act like more chimelta vets, popping more armour to let your blobs mow things down.

    I'd then blob up the other PCS with its blob. I'd swap its remaining two grenade launchers for another melta or autocannon depanding on whichever you get to use most!

    This should keep your list basically the same but get more use out of one PCS and then give one blob a slight boost while getting rid of a KP. Hope these ideas help!

  6. I do think the melta vets are important to this list - first off they are cheap saturation - otherwise all anti-tank just goes straight into the vendetta's and hydra's until they are done - at least with the melta vets they present a threat that needs to be dealt with as well (certainly from T2) - also they do help sure up the "weak" side of the blob's with "rapid response" - or so they seem against me. For example - I was targetting one side of andys blob - and he used his melta vets to swing round - take down my rhino of GKSS and charge them - actually was pretty successful - got me down to 3 dudes between explosion some shooting and charge.

    They are also expendable and fast anti-tank melta (the blob tends to run run run it seems) or a hardy objective sitter for flanks.

    I do like them.

  7. some real quality responses here guys. thank you to all who posted ideas.

    my favourite suggestions was the removal of one bodyguard and one gl' in exchange for upgrading 4 flamers to meltas on one PCS. i will try this tomorrow.

    sadly though, it is not possible to merge platoon command squads, only normal infantry squads. what i will do however, is give the second PCS an autocannon, making it another potential threat vector. thanks to Crosser Modelling for that idea!

    @Trent. i am actually interested to hear you say i am running foot blob and not hybred. my intention WAS to run a hybred list, and so far that approach has worked pretty well. when planning the initial list i was very aware of the fact that i needed to maintain mobility, which most foot lists sorely lack. this is why so many chimeras are present. 9 hulls and around 100 men is not bad for 1750 after all.

    @ Karitas, intersting ideas. the reason i didnt take the Priest was basically points concerns. he is a very fragile indepentand character (i.e. can be nuked in combat) who costs far too many points for what he does. it is a shame, because for even ten points less, or if he were a squad upgrade, he would be totaly worth it.

    once again, thanks guys, i'll post the final list, and some pictures, some time next week.

  8. oh and @Bully, i will be keeping the autocannons on the squads after all. i remember how in our first game i sat in midfield and shot you, a lot. i have a feeling i may be doing a bit more of that against certain opponants, and the autocannons will be very useful there. i cant really imagine what else i would do for 40 points that would add so much potential to the army.

  9. Andy what time are you in tomorrow? I have a 5:30 table booked (using DW obviously) I'll bring my GK mech along though in the rare chance that there is no one to play @ 7:30 or w/e.

    You around over the bank hol?

  10. That's true - in multiple objective games where you can just take 2 / 3 / 4 by sitting those 60 guys on 2+ objectives and invite people to come at you - those autocannons will be quite handy.

  11. I like it dude, although I'd like to see the removal of one Vet squad for a couple of SWS with Demo charge and flamers, for dirt cheap late game scoring or for anti inf purposes..
    Only if you are going to change a PCS over to Meltas though..

  12. Looks like it would be an interesting list to fight against...

    All I can think about is dropping the Doom of Malantai next to the infantry blobs...lol.

  13. RE:Hybrid list

    I just thought with the inclusion of Straken you would want to optimize his abilities with the amount spent on him and his unit.

    Chimerae aren't THAT tough to kill and are an easy way to net kill points. I don't see them do that much offensively. I suppose they do draw fire from your Vendetta & Hydra though. Still with the mobility of the Vendetta & range of Hydra it's easy to avoid much of enemy return volleys. Especially with refused flank.

    I've just seen how ineffectual all of the anti-tank in the meta is against massive units of Guard with 3+ cover saves. Mobility isn't really an issue with 'Move! Move! Move!' and you can safely camp on an objective once you reach it. With cover save and counterattack you don't have to move. Of course that's with max sized blobs armed with Lascannons, which you don't have here.

    What do you think about my advice regarding the Commissar Lord and Meltabombs on your Sergeants?

  14. @Trent,

    regarding the Commissar and Meltabombs. i would have loved to include both, but have not done so for the simple reason that i cannot find the points. nothing in the list can really be sacrificed for either of those upgrades. i cant even find a few lots of 5 points spare for some meltabombs (that wouldnt have been better used in their original location)

    as for the discussion on mobility... well, suffice to say i dont think it can be sufficiently discussed in these comments on a work morning when i have to run pretty soon! however, i will say that i believe there to be a difference between true mobility and the ability to move. sure, over the course of a game, and infantry blob with move move move can cross the table. however, it does this at the cost of shooting its weapons, and it does it in slow and steady incriments.
    a tank, even a normal one like a chimera, can move 6, and fire its weapons. it can move 12, its passengers can jump out and fire their weapons. a fast skimmer like a vendetta can move 12 and fire a lascannon, or 24 and contest or take objectives. true mobility is the ability to move very far in one turn.
    both many have their benefits, and it is true that infantry blobs hold midfield very well, but i feel that the real weakness of foot lists (true mobility) is (to an extent) dealt with by my list.

    oh an one final point. i believe Chimeras are, point for point, the best value tank in the entire 40k game right now. thats why i am always keen to include at least 4. but that is certainly a discussion for another time, as i am late!!