View Full Version : Ramblings of a madman? A look into Armies

31-08-2005, 23:33
hi there

well, seeing as its far too hot to sleep i thought i would write this as its been on my mind for quite sometime

Its about the thing that is central to the hobby, armies. It also seems to the be the point that most people complain about.

Back in the day of portent (hear me out on this one) we would often get threads listing the worst armies of all time (tbh, i'm quite surprised this one hasn't come up) and i find myself defending my pride and joy, the Thousand Sons which always seems to be among the top ten.

why? cause many see it as a crap army. I've seen some really good points to the weakness of the force (some i fully agree with...ie lack of fluffy tactics that work) and some truly dumb comments best shown by a thread i found on bother and chainsword (sorry to the poster orkjr but its a perfect repersentation of my point:

As far as Thousand Sons being bad goes... at 500 points you will not win a single game... At 1000 you will have a virtually impossible time winning any games... at 1500 it will be extremely difficult.... at 1850+, if you are very good, you can beat any army in 40K... The higher the points, the better the thousand sons are. As opposed to marines where the higher the points, the worst (relatively) they get.

A simple point really but one that is once again a way over-simplication (sp?). The logic is nearly as good as:

Empire Armies do crap at tournies, and all empire armies take steam tanks. Therefore steam tanks must be the problem

that gem i saw on the GW forums, which suffers to the lesser extent to what B+C suffers from.

theres a feeling that somehow by looking at an armylist you can tell how successful its going to be.

imo Its not the army thats powerful, but the person behind the army.

however, some people seem to think its quite the oppersite, as orkjr shows above.

However, clearly some armies are harder to use then others, Thousand Sons being a major example of this.

back in the old days of portent, i would past my time debunking the common view that thousand sons were a crap army that couldn't do anythng. Most of the time these claims were made by people who had played with the force for 3 games and decided that as they couldn't murder an army with it easily that it was crap.

sometimes you get the really good threads were people back their points up with evidence, for example a common complait i have with the army list is one often spoken upon on the thousand son tactic thread is about chosen, i feel a bit miffed that chosen arn't worth the points they cost, i would love to use a unit but can't find a use for them.

The chosen point is annoying i admit, but i've been quite successful with my rubric based TS army and intend to enter it in the GT heat one.

Thankfully warseer has seemly avoided this craze of attacking armies people consider "underpowered".

however, i have a different view upon what makes an army "powerful" or "weak".

Cheese is a really ugly term, i fully admit i've used it in the past and i see places where it can be used.

Cheese is defined as: an army that abuses the rules and the fluff to come up with powerful combinations.

Or, in modern terms: "anything that can kick the **** of space marines easily", for example the starcannon force.

however, if Space Marines were replaced with say...Eldar Cheese would be something completly different.

heavy bolters would be classed as cheese then. Why? well lets think for a second:

1) its AP4 so punches through guardian (and some aspect) armour (shock horror the main complait of the starcannon is that it punches through marine armour)

2) you can mass a sickenly large amount of them (each tactical squad can have one, and devs can have 4!!!! In fact you can stuff more heavy bolters in a marine army then starcannons in a eldar force!)

3) three shots each, and in the hands of marines are BS4! (erm, thats better then a starcannon!)

4) 36 inch range (you've guessed it! and they are cheaper)

looking at this, i could argue that heavy bolters are the finest type of cheese known to mankind!

But, they are not considered cheesy, if i was to make a heavy bolter filled marine army i would most likely be told to replace them with msiile launchers.

In a eldar army, if you have more then 2 starcannons you are suddenly laboured as a cheesy git and thereofre won't get any friends.

Against marines starcannons are powerful, against anything else they are annoying but not too bad.

The main problem is: everyone collects marines, which is due imo to several factors:

1) they are so rock hard (come on, when a kiddie sees 40K they go for the marines!)

2) easy custom fluff (come up with something cool and you can get it into a marine chapter as they arn't as rigid as orks/eldar/nids/tau/kroot/etc, you can come up with your known chapter eay)

3) easy to paint (low amount of flesh)

4) great models (whats not to like about rock hard killing machines? even at 18 they are still great)

so, more often then not you get critics who say "i hate marine players" or "i wish GW will give more love to non marines!"

is it really GW fault? No not really, they are an company focusing upon what the market wants, which happens to be space marines.

Instead, we should encourage players to expand their horizons (sp?), i once heard space marines called the "L" plates of 40K.

which they are, they are a great starter force, the problem is that once you start an army its hard to stop so therefore most of the armies started when you first open the box get turned into main armies, so in turn 40K has skewd into "marines against everything else, which more often then not is marines" so naturally players shift their armies to take on marines, which is fine.

but nowadays "marine killyness (is that word? if not sp?)" has turned into "cheese", in 40K i fail to see any real difference in the terms nowaday.

so the 40K community has become a strange mix, with marines being moaned at for being too common and people getting moaned at for creating armies that are ideal for killing marines.

so, heres my take on things:

1) first, lets start with the premise that all armies are equal.

ok, got that? a kroot merc force is now the same power as a BT force.

2) we set out a line like this:

Large player involvment-------------------------------------------low player involvment

3) now we place armies upon this line for what forces require a large player involvment and what requires a low player involvment.

suddenly you find a pattern emerging.

armies that are considered "under powered" such as Thousand Sons and Kroot are low on the line, while forces that are considered "cheesy" such as this (http://www.warseer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4855) force is placed highly upon this line.

while some armies like khorne are placed so highly that they too are considered underpowered, there seems to be a zone upon which a force is considered over powered (or, able to kill marines).

Marines you will most likely find are in the middle of this line, requiring a small amount of skill to use but also units that can take care of themselves.

the ones lower on the chart you'll find lack the ability to kill marines well, kroot and TS (i know that their are ways but just an example) are considered underpowered.

I think that cheesy should be removed from the dictionary, if you come across a "cheesy force" try making use of different tactics or work with the guy to make the game fun (as playing a cheesy force isn't considred fun), winning is secondary. Whats the point in playing a game if you don't enjoy it?

So, what am i trying to say here? That people really shouldn't judge an army by its comp and deem it un-winnerable (now is that a word?)?

no, clearly some armies arn't making best use (as although winning isn't important, having a realyl really bad list isn't fun either) of what teh army list is giving you. The main concern of a list should not be how easy to win is it, but to do an army that you find fun to play with, and more often then not that involves your opponent having fun too.

there, my two cents.

01-09-2005, 00:34
I agree with you...no army in underpowered, it is the person using the army that determines how well an army does. My thousand sons always do well, except in 500 point battles. In 750+ i can beat most other gamers out there. My list even does very well in tournies...if you want i can post my list, its not cheesy, i just have rhinos and powerfists and wind of chaos in each squad. I have had friends who have tried to use my list and fail horribly, even some of my friends who have won rogue traders in past years, all because thousand sons are a force very different from any other force out there.

No army is really underpowered, sjut tougher to use. I lost 90% of my games in the first weeks i had my thousand sons, but then i found that once i grasped their playing style, i won more and more of my games, and now i have a streak of about 23w-3d-9l (not including my 4w-2d-12l from the first month....)

Now to the powergamers argument....

Now, some people, like brother edwin, feel that they need to take four starcannons squads, a huge seer council, and 3 wraithlords to win, and if they think thats the only way they can win, then maybe they are right. Unfortunately for brother edwin i guaruntee that i could beat him 9 times out of 10 with my balanced thousand sons list. He may think he has a good army, but its just succeptible to quicker and more aggresive armies than his.

Powergamers (as they are so called) arent much worse than a person who trains all the time to be better at soccer. People in sports always do what is necessary to play better and win more, just like powergamers in warhammer, except these sports players are heroes to everyone the more they win, no matter how they win. In warhammer, if someone wins because they did all they could to win and they didnt care about having a "fun time," then that was their choice. Im not going to criticise and call some one a cheesy bastard just because they maxed out on one thing, because in the end, even though they have maximised their effectiveness against a certain army, their effectiveness against all other armies decreases. Now if brother edwin played a speed freek army then he would get his ass handed to him, but if he played a small force of grey knights or space marines, they would get slaughtered.

If this were real warfare, dont you think you would do everything in your power to win, and not try to have a "fun time"? I think that if an eldar general was going up against a lot of marine armies he wouldnt take shuriken cannons, just like a marines commander who is fighting in the narrow streets of baghdad doesnt take large tanks, because they have limited uses in those environments or against those specific foes. You have to tailor your army to fight who you think you will fight, and most players think they will fight most armies out there, so they create balance lists. But others decide to take list made to kill one army and one army only, but will suffer greatly when fighting other armies. For example, if you had a guard army, and you frequently fought tyranids, you would take flamers and heavy bolters galore, but these wouldnt do well at all against a space marine army, because they dont have the armour piercing power needed to take out a power armoured supersoldier.

When me and my friend went to the baltimore rogue trader, and i got 12th or so with my thousand sons (mostly because they were unpainted...i wouldve been 3rd if they were painted), my friend got 5th with his speed freaks, if only because most armies were ready to fight shooty eldar, tau, or marines (any variety), so they werent ready to take on the amazingly quick army that is the speed freaks. And thats why he won two of his three battles by the fourth turn....

In conclusion i hope i at least helped some people understand more as to why people powergame, and as to why more people should play orks :p

/end rant, cue curtains, and dim the lights.

Grand Warlord
01-09-2005, 01:04
I agree...

and my tankless empire do just fine thank you! lol

01-09-2005, 06:21
people always cry that BT are cheesy yet i havent had any problems with them, why? because the person i verse doesnt know how to use them, yet DE are said to be a bad army, yet i have never lost with them, i know how to use them. Armies come down to their commanders tactical brilliance

Lord of ???
01-09-2005, 09:00
I agree that armies are mainly driven by the person who is using it.

How ever you do have to that certain armies do make it much easier for a person to create a good winning army.

Its as simple as what would be classed as a beginner force (One which is very easy to master and learn how to use effectively) and a more advanced army (Harder to learn how to use and master but the outcomes can be much greater once it is mastered)

Pretty much some armies effectively give a player of lesser ability a booster shot by being easier to use and easier to win with.

But a bad general is still a bad general and can be out thought by a better opponent and still lose to what may be considered an inferior force.

01-09-2005, 09:15
To extend Kratos' sporting analogy, 'powergaming' is to friendly play what professional football is to a kickabout in the park with your mates.

Personally, I err towards the friendly approach, not least as it gives more scope for themed armies and cinematic scenarios without the bind of choosing a spectacularly competitive force. That said, competitive play is just that; every trick is fair game and more power (!) to those who pull off consistent victories with armies per ceived to be weaker such as Thousand Sons, Kroot, Infantry-only Guard etc.

To demonstrate the fun to be had with 'underpowered' units in friendly games, my best friend and I recently used the Gorkamorka 'rolling road' rules to stage a high speed engagement between my 20 Jetbikes + 6 Vypers and his pure bike/buggy/trak Kult of Speed.
Frankly neither of us could hit a barn door, but it was excellent fun when finally a Buggy's tryres were shredded by shuriken and it skidded out of control into two others racing along nearby. Likewise when those Big shootas finally locked on there were jetbikes ploughing into the ground left, right and centre.
Neither of these forces would be very spectacular against a well-planned tournament army, but it was a great game, and we swapped forces to play it again.

01-09-2005, 09:15
Another of the problems is that people tend to fight pitched slug-a-thons, where you just set up and whack the crap out of each other. Fun, but not representative of what a "real" 40k game is like, especially as there are several missions where you could (in theory) win after not killing a single enemy model and being reduced to your last squad.

Those kind of missions put much more emphasis on generalship than what your army actually is. In those missions, it is far easier for an army that couldn't win a straight fight, to win, and goes a long way towards countering the fact that not all armies are equal as far as power is concerned.

01-09-2005, 10:40
Hmm...I agree and Disagree.

There are some armies that are easier to play and win with then other and you see them alot. Then there are a type of gamer(a friend of mine does it and we refuse to play against him in friendly games because of it) that sits down and goes through the diffrent lists until he finds a combination of things that is very unbalanced, then he focuses heavly on that.

Then there are units that..well...ignore some of the core rules of 40k *Cough* Monolith *cough*. When I play my Witch Hunter list I have to roll a double 6 to take that bastard down, in tournaments I'm forced to play against Necrons sometimes, but in a friendly game I rather not do it, since the only way I really can win against him is with luck. Winning isn't everything, but it's fun to play a battle were both forces have a chance based on their strategy and not the roll of the dice.

The more complex armies in 40k and WHFB are harder to play, and sometimes much more rewarding to play. I much rather get a "Skill win" then to get a win because of my unbalanced list.

01-09-2005, 16:26
Another of the problems is that people tend to fight pitched slug-a-thons, where you just set up and whack the crap out of each other. Fun, but not representative of what a "real" 40k game is like, especially as there are several missions where you could (in theory) win after not killing a single enemy model and being reduced to your last squad.

Those kind of missions put much more emphasis on generalship than what your army actually is. In those missions, it is far easier for an army that couldn't win a straight fight, to win, and goes a long way towards countering the fact that not all armies are equal as far as power is concerned.

Absolutely. Playing nothing but Seek and Destroy immediately gives an advantage to certain armies. Guard, for example, benefit heavily from a mission which allows them to stand in their deployment zone and blast the enemy into slag. The much-fear and rarely-actually-seen Iron Warriors Pie Sale of Death will start having problems in a mission that requires it to do anything other than stand in one place and pound everything in sight into dust.

01-09-2005, 16:56
I like what everyone has said on this thread.

The funny thing about Starcannons is that they are fully supported in the latest 'fluff'. The new rulebook says something about Eldar using weapons that can pierce the thickest armour.

OK, so if Terminator armour is the most massive armoured suit, Eldar by definition have weapons that can easily pierce it. And they certainly do, but I think that Eldar players lean more heavily on Starcannons and fortuned/concealed Ulthwe Guardians when they don't understand how to use the entire Eldar army list to the best effect; it's as if they are trying to imitate the durability and firepower of Space Marines.

Pete Haines' article on terrain in the latest US White Dwarf is a case in point. If more terrain is used, Space Marine players don't have as much to fear from Starcannons because their troops can actually benefit from having cover saves. :eek:

Personally I don't mind the Starcannon because it forces "3+ Save Armies" to actually utilize terrain, which then creates more interesting games. Unfortunately certain Eldar lists (especially Ulthwe) have created unforseen imbalances.

So for the record, instruct any 40k player who complains about Starcannons to put more terrain on the table. ;)

I fully agree with zealousheretic. The 40k army lists were balanced to operate in diverse situations. Certain armies are better equipped to handle certain situations than others.

01-09-2005, 18:13
Time to get my rant on....

I'm started playing WH40k in college a few years ago and have tried to keep up with the hobby now that i'm working. Its been tough with the travel, but I still try to game every 2 weeks or so. Overall, I'm still very happy with the game and relatively happy with GW and its products. However, a few things bother me.

1. The new missions tables are a lot simpler now in the areas of force selection and standardizing rules. However, this has left a lot less balanced armies. Pretty much its guaranteed that you'll be facing an army that maxes out Heavy support and often times elites and fast attacks. This isn't a big change for people that always played standard unit selection anyway, but it does create more one-dimensional forces. Combine this with new standard rules for infiltrate and deepstriking, it seems like everyone is planning their army with lots of infiltrate and deepstriking units. With infiltrate and deepstrike being de facto agree upon, its seemed to up the power level of the game a bit. Being able to design your armies with infiltrate and deepstrike guaranteed eliminates what were once drawbacks for these expensive/specialized units.

2. Why are heavy weapons so cheap in troops units as compared to in heavy weapon teams? This I think is a source of much abuse and must be sanctioned by the game designers. A lascannon in a troop choice should not be less than half the cost as in a heavy weapons team. This is particularly true for marine tacs vs. devastators who have identical stats. The idea that heavy weapon teams are more powerful because they fire more heavy weapons at a target vs. having 4 heavy weapons in different squads is just not true the way the game is designed. The game rewards the use of multiple troop squads carrying cheap heavy weapons. If the units have identical stats, then the cost of the weapons should be the same to requisition and train. I think that if a lascannon were to cost the same in a dev squad as in a tac squad, this would balance the game out a lot more.

3. Assault cannons, enough said...can go into more detail, but pretty much violates all balance since it has extreme high number of shots, can have no save, good against vehicles, good against marines, and good against light troops. What more can you ask for?

4. Finally, on transports i think they swung the pendulum to far towards shooty armies now. It is true that people got real sick of rhino rush, but now facing these shooting monstrosities is just as bad.

01-09-2005, 18:56
I agree with a lot that has been said, but then on some points I differ.

Some armies ARE easier to win with than others. Others take more work, more thought, more tactics, more strategy. In my experience, older players tend to take armies that require more work, concentrating on theme and having fun, while most younger players want to win at all costs.

I completely buy into the theory that heavy weapons ar emuch more effective enmasse than they are in tactical squads. A 10 man tactical squad with a lascannon must choose to either shoot at the tank maximizing the lascannon's power, or shoot ta the enemy squad maximizing the boltguns. A devestator squad with 4 lascannons will almost certainly take out the thank, while the tactical squad will probably not take it out. Thus, 4 lascannons are worth more individually than a single lascannon in a tactical squad.

Assault cannons needed tweaking. In the old days (Notice I did not say the "Good old days"), assault cannons could and did take out anything and everything. Everyone had them, they were THE gun to have. They tweaked them for 3rd edition, they got so bad there was no reason to take them. A dreadnought came armed with an assault cannon why? No one I know used them. The Baal predator was almost worthless in battle. Now, with the new assault cannon rules, they are powerful again, but not as powerful as they used to be. Lets face it, Marines did not have a kick butt weapon, now they do. It is a weapon they almost every other army list has something to compare to. (Note I did say "almost")

And I agree, the focus on shooting has swung a little to far away from hand to hand. Transports need to be addressed a little bit, otherwise we might see rhinos and razorbacks disappear from the gaming table.

5upr3m3 h4xx0rz
01-09-2005, 19:17
Most places i play the armies are mostly close combat, and they still do very well. I have seen a large influx of blood angels...the death company + baal pred is crazy. More people should play orks...they never lost their rush, and now they are the quickest army (speed freaks especially) other than dark eldar and harlequins.

01-09-2005, 19:44
Oh I agree. And orks do not even have to have a lot of speed either... a good horde ork army can have 200+ models. It is REALLY hard to kill them all off.

And Baal Predators rock now... they only sucked before the rule change.

I play Blood Angels myself... just got to love those guys!

01-09-2005, 19:55
My main problem with the Starcannon is its ap of 2. This overpowers it slightly IMO as it gives Terminators a hard time. I have no problem with a Space Marine killing weapon for the Eldar but I have seen far to many Terminator squads gunned down by a couple of Starcannon. To many shots really for an ap 2 weapon IMO. It would be better to reduce it to ap 3 and present that as the reason why it can fire so quickly i.e the shots are slightly less powerful.


Bran Dawri
03-09-2005, 12:31
I completely buy into the theory that heavy weapons ar emuch more effective enmasse than they are in tactical squads. A 10 man tactical squad with a lascannon must choose to either shoot at the tank maximizing the lascannon's power, or shoot ta the enemy squad maximizing the boltguns. A devestator squad with 4 lascannons will almost certainly take out the thank, while the tactical squad will probably not take it out. Thus, 4 lascannons are worth more individually than a single lascannon in a tactical squad.

Except of course that 4 5-man tactical squads with lascannon and plasmagun can shoot the same amount of lascannons at a tank as well as plasma *and* can spread out their fire over several targets if the tank is incapacitated before you run out of shots.
So in this respect, as single lascannon in several tac squads is *more* valuable than several in a devastator because they're far more flexible.