Thursday, 22 January 2015

CentStar - Can it cut the mustard?

It's a beast no doubt - but can it handle the current meta?
It's more popular in the States than in the UK but what does this cool ass army look like and can it handle the main contenders in the UK tourney scene?

This is an amazing looking army on the table top - it's compact but fields some truly epic Space Marine heroes.
Draigo - lost in the Warp and just displaying mad power to rip himself out of it and pimp slap peeps
Loth/Tiggy/Grey Knight lvl3 Librarian - epic psykers controlling the battlefield and levelling shit with JUST THEIR MINDS!
Then the massive Centurions, striding across the battlefield soaking fire from all directions, cloaked and shrouded (sometimes literally) in darkness so that they can deliver their payload of Righteous Anger to the enemies of Mankind.
Finally.. Dreadknights - powerful, sanctified Grey Knights smashing the living shit out of ANYTHING!

Shit doggy - it's so cool!

It's expensive - both financially and on the tabletop; if you are going to run this list, you need to run it for a while to ensure you have your money's worth! But why would you not??

There have been several articles recently detailing what the CentStar is all about.
Here is a link to one of them;
This is an excellent article from Captain A of Frontline Gaming letting us know how the CentStar ticks and how to play against it as well. Balance is always nice.

But what does one run alongside the shooty deathstar?
Let's look:

The Centstar eats a lot of points. A lot.
Draigo is 245
Level 3 GK Libbie is 135
Tiggy is 165
4 Centurions with GravCannons and Hurricane Bolters, Serg with Grav, Tit Missiles and Omniscope is 350

Roped into this we know we need a troop choice to bring in Tiggy - so basic Scouts with Bolters add 55 more points to the list.

We need 2 troop choices from the GK codex, so let's just grab 2 units of Strike marines - they run at 125 if you give them a Psycannon or just 115 if you chuck an Incinerator in there.
I like a Psycannon as it gives the unit some options vs Vehicles, Walkers and MCs.
Between the 2 units we can get up to 8 med/high strength rending shots to add to targets.
The Strikes also bring 2 more Psychic Mastery Levels, important for getting all the CentStar powers off.

From here we have 650 points left.
This could go in a number of ways, but what this list really needs is something to do 3 things:
a) Distract from the CentStar
b) Intercept effective enemy units and tie them up
c) Add significant firepower across multiple targets - or up the "threat vectors" as we used to say way way back in the day.

This is not an easy task to accomplish - but I think it can be done.
The GK's have an excellent unit that is now so much cheaper than it was in the previous edition, I've already hinted at it in the opening and yes, it is the Dreadknight (DK).

A DK clocks in a a mere 215 points for;
Extreme board control and speed via the Personal Teleporter.
2 Initiative-striking S10 Powerfists
A Heavy Incinerator for blowing pesky units camping on objective away without cover - holy S6 torrent flame does this nicely
A Heavy Psycannon for 6 S7 Rending shots - nice for adding to the anti-Knight Titan firepower when hitting up Ad Lance
And of course, they add another Mastery Level to the power dice pool for our crazy psyker shizzle.

Three of these fit the bill nicely.

We end up with:

Lord Draigo (He won't come out to play unless you call him 'Lord')
Level 3 Termie Libbie
2 x 5 Strike Marines with Psycannon
3 x Dreadknights with H.Psycannon, 2 Fists, H.Incinerator and Personal Teleporters
5 Scouts with Bolters
4 Devastator Centurions with Grav, Hurricane Bolters and Serg with Grav, Tit Missiles and Omniscope

Total Power Dice: 13 (so 14-19)
KPs: 10
Ob Sec: 3 (ah crap)
7 viable threat vectors

What's big in the UK Meta then?
Ad Lance ( to a degree)
Eldar Wave Serpent Spam
Tau firepower lists (as opposed to the other kind?)
TauDar (Summoning Seer support)
Tyranid flier heavy Leviathan/self allied
Mixed Star Demons (Screamers and Drones)
Limited Biker SM/Champions of Fenris

So this is what we have to deal with. Can it?

Ad Lance: With Invisibility? It's OK - the Star can nail one and the Dreadknights can smush the fuckers in combat. All 3 DK's firing Heavy Psycannon's and then charging with like 15 S10 I4 attacks is pretty sweet... Got the speed and the minerals. Should be OK. Am I being disrespectful to Ad Lance? What else is in the list? Multiple Riptides? Gating presents a nice clustered target, but Invis keeps the Riptides honest. Grav is designed to kill those bastards anyway!

Wave Serpents: Again, the immobilise on the skimmers is sexy, DK can do a real number on them with the speed to catch the fast moving target. The sheer volume of shots coming at the CentStar from Serpents is going to be a real pain as, even with Invis up, the dice will hit 6's. Fire Dragons delivered from Webways and from the back of the Serpents you fail to kill will be an arse.. hopefully Invis keeps you alive here.
We all know how little I like "hopefully" and how little you should too!
A tough match up, but one the CentStar SHOULD triumph over.

Tau firebase plus Tau: A tough one this because it comes down to a few elements:
A) Can you hide the Dreadknights outside of the Tau 36" death bubble?
B) Have we got Invisibility?
If so, they can sweep about grabbing backfield objectives and we can take the firefight to them. If not.. ouch. I don't see the CentStar surviving without Invisibility in this match up.

Nid Fliers: 7. 7 Bloody Nid Fliers. Commonly seen on the scene in a post-Leviathan/Formation world. At least 3 Hive Tyrants (you can get 4) and Crones/Harpies picking up the slack. This is a powerful build as it can fly around with E-Grubs and Haywire Missiles smashing vehicles and shredding most stuff with HVC's and Brainleech Dev's. Plenty of psychic dice as well to try and shit on your Invisibility parade. It has very little ground presence though - I'm talking like 2 spore mines or some shit; therefore it does struggle on Maelstroms in this match up - once they land they will get smashed to shit. Shooting them in the air is a painful prospect, you'll maybe tag one wound or two in the air and force a singular ground check on, max, a half dozen targets - realistically, a couple of targets.
The big advantage for the CentStar is the alpha strike potential. Going first you can aggressively Gate and smash at least one of the bastards before they start flying, maybe cripple a second with Heavy Psycannon firepower. Whilst it is nice to reserve the big shunt on the Dreadknights for the end of the game, it can be useful to get access to well-hidden units on turn 1.
They'll Vector Strike the utter shite out of the CentStar and they can get around Draigo tanking the wounds quite easily with 360 degree shooting on the FMCs.
This is a tough build if they go first and in the right mission set up.
I think this is tough for CentStar no matter what to be honest. Whilst Tau might smash the fuck out of it, CentStar does not possess the high volume of shots over the wide range of targets, despite rocking the quality of shots, that Tau do.

Necrons: Can you roll 6 to hit and 6 to hull point? Scythes will be a pain in that case. Check out the article on Torrent of Fire however on why fliers are not the meta. This may change further with the new Necron book out soon, but I think the Croissant may be numbered in the dying light of it's 3/4 year empire.  Still, a fewer number of results are needed as the Immobilise result on a flier is very nice. Ground forces? Wraiths with multiple wounds and 3++ invulnerable save? Real pain in the arse. These bad boys can tie you up for bloody ages. The Dreadknights should be able to intercept nicely though and protect the star to keep it doing what it does. Due to the T4 of the Wraiths you can just torrent them away at a unit per turn, the DK's combine to smash another unit per turn and the problem is then solved. Simple right.
If you have Invis up, you may only be hit on 6's by the Tesla Annihilator, but with 4 twin linked shots per weapon, Barges and Scythes will still put a lot of wounds for Draigo to tank per turn. That's tough, because whilst it is an OK task to take down one element of the (currently) successful Cron list i.e. Wriaths, then Barges, then fliers.. it is the combination of all of these hitting you at once that means a points heavy deathstar cannot spread its shots across the appropriate number of threat vectors. Should be OK, but who knows.. Necrons are tactically flexible enough to give you a bloody tough game.

Wolf Bikes: Tough one. How many 3++/FNP saves can the tanking Wolf Lords up front take before they go down or hit combat. No, there is really only 1 turn, 2 phases if the CentStar goes first, before the Wolf Pack hits - plus overwatch as well I guess. Then the question comes - how many of those sick sick powerfists are going to hit on 6's? Will Draigo take one of them down in a challenge? Champions of Fenris must issue and accept challenges remember. They try and get around this with cyber wolf characters...
The easy answer to this is Gate. Simply pick up the CentStar and move it away to slaughter another component of the opponent's list. Now this works when the Wolfbomb is simple, but what about in the ideas we discussed here, where it is the whole list? All with Invulns and FNP?
Chapter Master Command Bike units and Wolfbomb stuff are essentially the same - they may also be throwing Grav or Plasma back at you with some psyker support - in the WolfWing idea I talked about in the linked article, there is psyker support going for Invisibility too... Not a mirror match as such, but it makes for a tough proposition for the CentStar.
If you Gate away far enough to be safe from a charge, then you are not shooting the Wolfbomb. 24" for the Grav Cannon is a pain in this case as you can be charged.
So the other option is to stand and fight? Fire everything, including the Hurricane Bolters and just try and put wounds through the Wolfbomb before charging it? Keep it where you want it and then leg it in the next turn via Gate?
Maybe an option. Draigo is pretty solid but not good enough to stand up to multiple Wolf Lords and Iron Priests with TH and PFs.
A lot of this is points dependent - if we get the Full BS Overwatch power then it's easy, just Gate around with Invisibility up and Overwatch the shit out of the unit.
Ultimately, the issue is that the Wolfbomb is basically the ENTIRE list.
This is not the case with the Centurions as we have 3 Dreadknights kicking about with the ability to Instagib the Wolf Lords at S10 at I4 before they swing. Add in the monumental firepower of the ENTIRE list shooting at the, far less likely to have invisibility, Deathstar and it should be a cake walk. DK's can keep the Star tied up (with Sanctuary) for a few turns, in the mean time we can grab objectives with the Cents, Strikes and Scouts.

So a mixed bag against the top tiers then. Clearly it competes, but not completely. Those times when you just can't roll Invisibility - either to generate the power at the start (Tiggy not FW luvvy Loth) or to manifest... those times you have no '6's in you.. It's tough by can still get smashed. FNP would be nice..
Too expensive an ask for not enough return - got buy the Priest and some Scouts...where do the Centurions come from? SM, so we lose GK! Nope.
FNP sources? Not happening.

Powerful, but not the ultimate list. I'll be taking this out for it's first spin next Wednesday against Olliswe (Oli Iyer) and his current tournament list. I've ordered my Centurions as the first purchase of the new year and they are basically the last unit of Space Marine stuff that I don't have.. a collection is being completed.. although let's face it, 40K is never done with you even when you think you have it mastered!


  1. Thanks for the link!

    I've really enjoyed playing the Centurionstar as it has a lot of tools to take on some of the big dogs out there. Biggest problem with it IMO is that it can really be random in terms of getting key powers off. Nothing like getting your star sent to the corner to do nothing for a turn or two cause you mishapped or got denied on Gate.

    One reason I took it is that I was looking for a strong build for LVO and had a lot of the components already. It has a lot of potential to impact things, especially if you get the right powers. I'm almost thinking that Perfect Timing is more clutch sometimes than invisibility.

    Whats funny is that the list you came up with is pretty much the list that I'm running right now. Good luck and I look forward to seeing your report from your game!

    1. Hey Cap.
      Randomness is a pain in the ass! It let's you down at the very least opportune moment!
      It's definitely a strong list for a big event like the LVO - I think this is mainly because at large events the meta plays out to the average - you see the top lists that are all over the internet, the ones you plan for. At small event you can get some out there, left field lists that screw over meta planning.

      Re the lists - I think is one of the strongest ways to run CentStar. One thing I really wanted to get in was a land speeder storm for the scouts and some toys to keep the Star from scattering ...

  2. Centurions prevent the entire unit from over watching.

    1. Good catch! Cheers dude! You can tell I've not been in a truly competitive mindset for a while!!

  3. Good write up! Glad to see some new 40K material up too.

    Do you think the 3rd DK is worth the 2 strike squad tax? It seems like running a nemesis strike force and a Space Marine CAD could have the possibility of filling in other gaps. Dropping one strike squad and one DK could net you...

    Sternguard w/combi meltas in pod w/beacon (Knight Titan)
    Scout squads in storms w/multi meltas (Ob Sec/Tank busting)
    A couple of storm talons or a stormraven? (Flyers/Tank busting)


    1. I like the thought process Coyote.. I'll explore what can be done. I do like the Scouts in Storms, I was chatting last night about a few drop pods ironclads, sternies etc
      I think I'll test this current list this week and see what I feel about it.
      I had overlooked the nemesis strike force though ... Thanks bro!

    2. I hadn't thought about ironclads.

      I'll be really interested to see how your testing goes. .

  4. My mate was running this for quite a while. It struggled against SeerStar because it couldn't hurt it, and Daemon factory because he didn't have enough target opportunity, and Daemons make gravs not work right. It was still a solid list. I would recommend dropping one dreadnight and bringing in two scout squads in landspeeders, if the enemy can get in your backlines, i.e. drop pod assault, you'll find your scoring units wiped and the game lost because the star can't score that well.
    All that said, great, thoughtful writeup!

    1. Hey ScumLord, thanks for the thoughts! Demon troops are a pain in the arse for CentStar, but I'm hoping that by keeping to Hurricane Bolters I can bring them down by sheer weight of fire. The DKs too are built to take on hordes able to drop a pair of large templates to take on mass models.
      Yeah, I'm already guessing the scoring will be an issue - I'll generally deep strike the Strikes and infil or outflank the scouts on foot. I do have an alternate list with 4 Centurions and a scout speeder, but I really like the DKs ..
      I'll get a couple of games in with it and feedback on my thoughts, hoping the DKs can help me score with their speed