Monday, 6 February 2012

Achieving the Impossible - Competitive Chaos Marines

Recently I've had an itch which I need to scratch - that is, to revisit the Chaos Space Marines codex and see if there are some left-field ways of building a CSM force capable of competing with Space Wolves, Grey Knights, Imperial Guard mech/leaf-blower builds and other armies which are rightfully considered to be competitive in tournaments. The reasons for this are simple - firstly, my original 40k army is Chaos Marines, and right now they are simply collecting dust, and secondly, I think we can safely expect a new Chaos Legions and/or Renegade Marine codex any time soon, so time is short to 'enjoy' the current codex.

The Masterplan

Whenever I plan an army (no really, I do plan) I aim to be able to achieve three main things:

1. Destroy enemy transports early in the game
2. Eliminate opposing troops
3. Have enough surviving scoring troops alive at the end of the game to claim objectives

This may be a bit over-simplistic, but it helps me to approach a codex with clarity of thought. I am a mainly fluffy player, and I will often compromise my army's overall efficiency by including units that I love, or by building the whole army around a theme (all drop-spore Tyranids, all jump-pack Marines etc). Nothing wrong with fluffy playing of course, but you can only lose so many times before the  novelty wears off! 

Thinking Outside the Box

So this week's plan is to take a fresh - and more importantly critical - look at the Chaos Space Marines codex, and to try to address the three tactical points above. I'm hoping that, with the advent of elite, low model-count tournament favourites like Grey Knights, Loganwing, Deathwing et al, that this might give  the old book a new lease of life. Of course I'm a realist so I'm not expecting miracles, but it's worth a try.

Where Your Help Comes In

I'd love to hear from you! If you play Chaos Marines, let me know what works for you (let's keep it positive; there's plenty of blogs dedicated to negativity already out there!). If you regularly play against Chaos Marines, let me know what you have come to dread facing.

So, thanks in advance for your comments!

Later this week I will comment on your responses, and also publish my thoughts on what I think could work. Finally, I intend to play some games with the best 1,750pt list that we can come up with here. So Mick, Andy, Gav, Dave - this means I'll be looking for some practise games! And if the army works reasonably, I may even take it to the Open War tournament in Manfield in April.  

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Doom of Malan'tai

When drawing up a list for my Tyranid army, one of the first names on the team-sheet is always the Doom of Malan'tai. When delivered into the heart of battle using a Mycetic Spore, the Doom is a very useful unit. This article is not, however, about how to use the Doom of Malan'tai, but rather about how people feel about facing this particular unit.

What do you get for the points?

Just to remind everyone who may not be familiar with the 5th edition Tyranids Codex, the Doom of Malan'tai is a 90-point unique unit (but not an independent character!) which is usually selected along with a 40-point Mycetic Spore. So to summarise:
  • Worth 130pts, and giving your opponent two relatively easy kill-points
  • A Toughness 4 single-model infantry unit that cannot be attached to another larger 'bubble-wrap unit
Let's compare what else costs about the same. How about: 
  • A lascannon-sponsoned Predator?
  • A Vindicator?
  • A CSM Daemon Prince?
  • A Furioso Dreadnought?  
  • A 10-man squad of melta-toting IG Veterans or Stormtroopers
  • An IG Vendetta, Basilisk or Medusa
.... and the list goes on. So, it is clear that there are plenty of very effective units throughout the game that are the same cost (or cheaper) than the Doom. So the question is, why are folks so perturbed about playing against it?

Psychological warfare (aka, the bottom lip wobbles)

The impetus for this article is the tournament I played in last weekend at Malstrom Games in Mansfield. The tournament itself was fantastically organised as always, and the guys who I played were all friendly and competitive-but-not-waac. Trouble was, every time I placed Doom onto the board, I found that I had to explain the model's special rules, which on more than one occasion was met with slack-jawed surprise, followed by petulence, annoyance, or outright anger. I also thought one guy was going to cry, or at least call over the tourney ref to complain that 'it's not fair'!

I realise that against some armies the Doom is phenomenal - Ork hordes and IG infantry are particularly susceptible. I actually find it's even better against elite armies such as all-Terminator forces, where the loss of a handful of models represents a big percentage of the army. On the flip-side, most players nowadays have the sense to hide their infantry in transports, against which the Doom is impotent.

I field the Doom of Malan'tai almost as much as a pyschological shock to the opponent, as much as an offensive unit in it's own right. Just like other 'shock' units, your opponent will focus far too much attention (and shooting) against this model, which pleases me - it means the rest of my army is surviving relatively unscathed!  

In conclusion

So is the Doom 'broken'? Compared to the effectiveness of some other similarly-valued models, I don't think so. Especially not when it is only toughness 4 - a decent round of shooting from bolters, shuriken catapults or sluggas will quickly wear him down, and of course missile launchers and lascannons will 'double him out' and instantly kill, should a single 3++ save be failed.

Which units do you include in your army that your opponent is unreasonably scared of?

Which units do you not like facing? Or think are 'broken' or overpowered for their points?